Gregorian Chant: A Guide


Gregorian Chant: A Guide
onofDom Sa
om t
the history
I search everywhere for that which we
have pondered, have done, have loved in
the Church throughout the ages of faith.
Dom Guéranger
2000 years ago, the Christian message left the holy
city of Jerusalem and the Syro-Palestinian territories
and spread quickly throughout the Mediterranean
basin. As the message spread, so too did the newly developing Christian worship, that is, the liturgy, the
Christian public prayer. Contrary to a process of centralization, every region soon celebrated the liturgy,
and sang in its own language.
This diversity of languages is preserved even to our
own time in the liturgies of the Middle East. In the
Mediterranean West, however, things progressed differently. After two centuries of liturgy in the Greek language, Latin, that is, the current language of the time,
was adopted. Thus, every region of the Christian West
began with its local repertoire of sacred chant: only
one language (Latin), but different texts and music.
Today we are certain that the following existed:
– a Beneventan chant for southern Italy,
– a Roman chant for the city of Rome and its territories,
– a Milanese chant in northern Italy,
the history
– an Hispanic chant on the two sides of the Pyrenees,
– a (or several?) Gallican chant(s) in the territories
of Roman Gaul.
Of all these Latin repertoires of the ancient West,
only the Milanese has remained in use up to today.
The church of Milan preserved, not without difficulties
nor compromise, her own liturgy. Her chant is called
“Ambrosian,” in honor of the spiritual patronage
given to this tradition by the bishop Saint Ambrose (d.
397). This repertoire is consigned to manuscripts of
the twelfth century.
Knowledge of the primitive Roman tradition has
come to us through a few somewhat vague1 historical
testimonies and especially through Sacramentaries.2
We are, thus, well informed on the order of the ancient
liturgy of Rome,3 but what do we know about her chant?
Without a doubt, it was transmitted only through oral
tradition. Five books, written between the eleventh and
the thirteenth centuries, give us the repertoire sung in
certain Roman basilicas during this time. Even though
there were some distortions and corruption [of the oral
tradition], they were minimal, as evidenced by the few
variants among these manuscripts. These five books,
therefore, permit us to see, in large measure, the tradition of the primitive Roman chant.4
The composition of the Roman repertoire goes
back, for the most part, to the fifth and sixth centuries.
At the beginning of the fourth century the Church is
freed from persecution, and the administrative appara-
the history
tus of the Roman empire is now almost completely at
the service of the Church. The construction of large
basilicas allows the worship to grow publicly and to acquire a new solemnity. All the arts come together
there, including music in its own place. Indeed, up
until this time most of the chant had been reserved to
a soloist. But now the schola cantorum is born, a group
composed of about twenty clerics (experienced singers
and young pupils in formation) who lay their vocal expertise at the service of the liturgical celebration. This
group of specialists develops, during the fifth and sixth
centuries, a repertoire of sophisticated religious music,
consisting of two types of pieces.
On the one hand, a recasting of the preexisting
repertoire. The schola replaces the soloist henceforth
for the execution of some of the pieces that had been
reserved to him up to this time. However, the schola
also gives these pieces a more ornate style and a more
complex structure.
On the other hand, the creation of original compositions, linked to the development and the pomp of the
rites in the large basilicas, for example, the chant linked
to the imposing entry procession of the celebrant.
By the time of Pope Gregory I (590), the composition of the corpus of Roman melodies seems to be finished.
During the second half of the eighth century a rapprochement is initiated between the Frankish kingdom
the history
of the Pépins (Pépin the Short and his son Charlemagne) and the papacy (Stephen II and his successors). This rapprochement is, first of all, of a political
nature: territories of the Supreme Pontiff are being
threatened by the Lombards, while the young king of
the Franks is anxious to assure his legitimacy to a
throne conquered through great struggle. Pépin the
Short commits to protect the papal territories, while
the pope comes to France with his court, renews the
consecration of the Frankish king (754), and stays for
a long time at the abbey of Saint-Denis.
These circumstances give the new ruler an appreciation for the Roman liturgical practices. Pépin the
Short sees in them a means to assure the religious unity
of his territories, thereby strengthening their political
unity. He adopts – and this measure will be reinforced
vigorously by Charlemagne – the Roman liturgy in his
Speaking practically, the introduction of the Roman
liturgy involved the suppression of the Gallican chant
repertoire and its replacement by the Roman repertoire. We see in correspondence and various records of
the time several references to requests for Roman
books to be sent to Gaul. The sending of these books
was accompanied by exchanges of cantors, since at this
time the chants were not yet written down: at best, only
books containing texts, without melodies, could be
What occurred then, in the second half of the eighth
century, in Frankish Gaul, between the Seine and the
Rhine (in Metz?), has not been transmitted to us in
the history
written documents. Liturgists and musicologists have
compared the Roman books (of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries) and books of Gregorian chant. Their
findings permit us to pose a highly likely hypothesis.5 At
the time of the confluence of the Gallican and Roman
repertoires, there occurred a kind of cross-fertilization.
The texts of the Roman chant, written down in books,
were easy to impose, and became the texts of reference.
However, it went otherwise for the melodies. The Gallican musicians adopted most frequently6 the general
nature of the Roman chant and its modal architecture.7
However, they clothed these chants with a completely
different ornamentation than that to which these
melodies had been attached previously. Said differently, instead of the pure and simple replacement of
one repertoire by the other, there was a hybridization.
This can be summarized by the equation:
Roman * Gallican → Frankish-Roman
in which the asterisk symbolizes this cross-fertilization.
The oldest musical witness of this hybridization goes
back to the end of the eighth century; it is the tonary of
Saint-Riquier,8 which gives only the first words and the
modes of some pieces of the new chant. We must wait
yet another century to see books of chant that include
musical notation: the first extant books come from the
very end of the ninth century and especially from
throughout the tenth.
As is the case with all liturgical chant of antiquity, the
new Frankish-Roman chant repertoire was born of the
the history
oral tradition. Internal analysis demonstrates this
abundantly. However, in the historical theory that has
just been posed there was a rupture in this oral tradition: the suppression of a local repertoire (Gallican)
and its replacement by a foreign repertoire (FrankishRoman). The imposition of this new repertoire
throughout the West met with strong resistance, in
Gaul, in Milan, in Rome and in Spain. Two conditions,
however, helped bring about the ultimate success of
this overhaul:
– the invention of a process of writing the melody,
which represents a considerable turn in the history of
– the attribution of the composition of the new chant
to one of the most famous characters in Christian antiquity, Pope Gregory the Great.9
The historical context of the composition of this
Gregorian chant (so-called because of its attribution to
Gregory I) is one of significant development in civilization that historians call the first “Carolingian Renaissance.” During this epoch, the barbaric peoples,
in the process of stabilizing, turn their attention toward
the culture of Greco-Roman antiquity, and take it upon
themselves to emulate the Byzantine empire. The new
repertoire, therefore, immediately becomes the subject of study by the musicologists of the time. Those
whom we call theorists classify the musical pieces into
rhythmic and modal categories, sometimes quite distant from the realities of the original compositions.
They also promote – from as early as the ninth century,
that is, even before the music is first written down – the
practices of syllabization and of organum, both of
the history
which would furnish this new repertoire with unforeseen developments.
Several factors coincide here.
The progress of the notation
The first notation systems did not indicate the
melodic intervals, but only the rhythmic values and
agogic nuances. This certainly suited a music whose
essence was to sing the words following freely the inflections of the declamation. Soon, however, the notation was asked also to indicate the values of intervals.
By comparing manuscripts, we see that this new concern consequently rendered impossible the precise
maintenance of the rhythmic nuances.
Progressively, the appearance of lines, then of the
cursus and clefs, and finally their interconnection with
the system of the Guidonian staff, restrict the rhythmic
possibilities of the notation as much as they benefit the
dissemination of the music and the alleviation of the
need for memory. The Guidonian staff – perfected
during the first half of the eleventh century – acts a little bit like a filter with regard to understanding the
original composition. It will probably always prevent us
from reaching the complete truth about the primitive
scales, micro-tones, and the practice of mobile degrees.
In its genesis the musical notation is bound intimately to the oral tradition. Before its invention every-
the history
Trope for the Offertory Ave Maria
Polyphonic sequence Rex cæli Domine
the history
one sings from memory. During the decades when the
notation develops, everyone still sings from memory,
but before the ceremony the cantor refers to the book
to get ready. Once the system of notation is established, everyone sings with eyes fixed on the book. Little by little, the role of memory diminishes; the singer
is no longer joined to the original vocal gesture as an
interpreter: he is prevented from such mediation by
the drastic reduction of the signs.10 A new stage in the
history of music begins.
“The loss of the momentum of Gregorian thought,
immobilized by these fixed reference marks, opened
to music a new era of creation.”
The syllabization of melismas
The melisma, or jubilus, is a vocalise, a moment of
pure music that blooms on a syllable; it is a process of
ornamentation that is essential to Gregorian chant.
However, beginning in the ninth century, the trope develops, that is, the syllabization of certain melismatic
pieces (Alleluia, Kyrie and other chants). Having at the
same time witticism and cleverness of composition, not
to mention being somewhat mannered and pedantic,
this prosulation (the process of syllabization of melismas) enjoyed an incontestable success from the tenth
century onward.
“But to underline a counter-part: when melismas,
originally pure vocalises, were transformed into syllabic songs by the addition of literary texts, this modification did not only change the original style, it also
contributed to denaturing the rhythm; indeed, notes
that were often varied in their value, as the first notation systems indicate, are all rendered equal by the ar12
ticulation of a syllable on each one of them.”
the history
The treatise Musica enchiriadis, from the ninth century, contains the first written polyphonic piece known
in the West, as well as the first theoretical writings concerning chant in several voices. It is eminently clear
that a simple doubling at the fourth reduces to nothing
all the modal virtualities of the original monody, while
the efforts of the singers to assure the simultaneity of
parts irreparably ruins the rhythmic suppleness.
After the Council of Trent (1545-1563), Gregorian
chant entered into a state of complete decline, in its
editions as well as in its execution. The manuscripts
offer no more than a “heavy and overwhelming succession of square notes that cannot suggest a feeling and
that can say nothing to the soul.”13 The Renaissance
with its “humanists”14 delivers the final blow: the
melodies, corrected officially, are submitted to the
canons of classical Latin. The long melismas, having
become trying since everyone has forgotten the art of
singing them, are dissected and reduced to just a few
In 1833, a young priest of the diocese of Le Mans,
Dom Prosper Guéranger, undertakes the restoration of
Benedictine monastic life at the priory of Solesmes,
after an interruption of forty years caused by the French
Revolution.15 According to the Rule of Saint Benedict
the monk’s day is centered completely around the
solemn celebration of the Mass and the Divine Office.
To recapture the Benedictine life, therefore, would involve a return to the liturgical forms of Christian antiq-
the history
uity, especially the chant. Not a musician, but a man of
taste, learning and discernment, and propelled by a supernatural charisma, Dom Guéranger takes up the
restoration of Gregorian chant with enthusiasm.
He starts by addressing its execution, and he asks his
monks to respect in the chant the primacy of the text:
pronunciation, accentuation and phrasing, all so much
the guarantees of intelligibility, at the service of prayer.
In a few years, thanks to the invaluable counsel of a
priest of the region, Canon Gontier, the style of execution at the small monastery is entirely renewed and begins to set an example followed by others. The first law
of the interpretation of Gregorian chant is formulated:
“The rule that dominates all rules is that, except in
the pure melody (melisma), the chant is an intelligent reading, well accentuated, well phrased, with
good prosody...”
From 1860 to 1865, Dom Guéranger charges one of
his monks, Dom Paul Jausions, with the restoration of
the authentic melodies, according to the following
“If one can sometimes be correct in believing that
he possesses the Gregorian phrase in its purity for a
particular piece, it is when copies from several distant
churches agree on the same lesson.”
The works begin in a very austere way: the copying of
the oldest manuscripts of Gregorian chant at the municipal library of Angers. Their writing “in scrawls” is,
for the moment, indecipherable.
In this effort to recover the primitive Gregorian cantilena, the abbot of Solesmes is not alone. He is part of
the history
Comparative table (Solesmes, atelier de Paléographie musicale)
the history
a larger movement of interest in this sacred repertoire18. It is, however, at Solesmes that the restoration
assumes the requisite scientific dimension. The first attempts at comparisons between manuscripts, done by
Dom Jausions, were followed by the efforts of Dom
Joseph Pothier. These led, in 1883, to the publication
of the first book of chants for the Mass (Gradual). In
this book the restitution has already reached a very respectable level. The publication of the Gradual had
been preceded, in 1880, by Les mélodies grégoriennes, the
first treatise on the composition and the interpretation
of Gregorian chant. In what it reveals, this book remains current.
Dom André Mocquereau further developed this scientific enterprise by establishing a collection of facsimiles of the principal chant manuscripts in the libraries
of Europe. He founded the workshop for creating the
facsimiles and the publication known as Paléographie
Musicale (1889).
This collection of facsimiles, enhanced by such indispensable tools as catalogs, index files, and summary
tables, constitutes the material foundation of the
restoration of the Gregorian melodies.
Research led, at the beginning of the twentieth century, to an official edition19 of chants of the Mass (Graduale Romanum, 1908) and of the Office (Antiphonale Romanum, 1912).
The publication of the Antiphonale Monasticum
(1934), marked a new threshold of progress with regard to the fidelity of the restitutions.
the history
However, the Gregorian restoration is not finished,
since the recent Vatican Council II (1963-1965) has
asked for “a more critical edition of the chant books already published.”20
In the assumption of this task, today's researchers are
aided greatly by the work of Dom Eugène Cardine
(monk of Solesmes, 1905-1988). It is he to whom we
give credit for having elucidated the laws governing the
writing of the primitive neums. It is also he who laid
the foundation for a “critical edition of the Graduale
Romanum.” The mystery that hovers over the origins of
the Gregorian repertoire21 does not permit us today to
conclude with certitude the existence of a single “archetype,” that is, a unique and absolute source of all
the documents preserved to us. The publication of this
critical edition, therefore, cannot be envisaged with a
short deadline. However, all the important witnesses of
the tradition are now known, listed and studied; little
by little, they deliver their secrets.
The word restoration should be understood here in
the totality of its sense. To improve the melodic restitution of pieces constitutes a fine contribution to the
work of the Gregorian restoration. The restoration,
however, will only be completed when Gregorian chant
has been integrated, in a customary and vibrant way,
into the liturgical practice of an assembly (monastery,
parish, etc.). To this end, there are entire communities that work assiduously for the Gregorian restoration, but they do so in a quiet, hidden way, and without
the least musicological pretension.
the history
1. Notably allusions in Liber pontificalis, a sort of chronicle of the
successive pontificates of antiquity. Liber pontificalis has been published by L. DUCHESNE (Paris, Bibliothèque des Écoles d’Athènes
et de Rome, t. I, 1886, t. II, 1892. Reedited by Boccard, 3 volumes,
1955 and 1957). It has been shown since, however, with what prudence the historian must read its directions. (Peter JEFFERY, art.
cit. infra).
2. These books, intended for the celebrant, contain the main
prayers (prayers and prefaces) for each of the Masses of the liturgical year.
3. Of the various books, Ordines romani, has preserved to us detailed descriptions of it; cf. Michel ANDRIEU, Les Ordines romani du
haut Moyen Age, Louvain, 5 volumes, 1931.
4. The oldest has been published in facsimile by Max LÜTOLF:
Das Graduale von Sancta Cecilia in Trastevere, Cologny-Genève,
Foundation Martin Bodmer, 1987.
5. Philippe BERNARD, “Sur un aspect controversé de la réforme
carolingienne: ‘Vieux-romain’ et ‘Grégorien,’” Ecclesia orans,
anno VII-1990/2, p.163-189.
6. That is to say, the pivotal points of the composition, the main
cadences and recitations and important melismas.
7. For a large part of the repertoire, the Roman and FrankishRoman pieces are quite comparable. There are exceptions, concerning which a study is in progress.
8. Paris, B.N. lat. 13159. Cf. Michel HUGLO, R.G. 31 (1952), p.
176 and 224.
9. This attribution was much easier to make than that of Gregory being the presumed author of the Sacramentary (the book of
the priest's prayers), of which the liturgical order coincided with
that of the Roman antiphonary of the Mass. However, there was a
gap of more than a century between the fixing of the Sacramentary called “Gregorian” and the development of a homogeneous
the history
10. The oral tradition can stay vibrant, however, with an insufficient notation. Just as the writing in pure neums was preserved into
the fifteenth century in certain Germanic centers, in the same way
an authentic interpretation was able to be maintained here or
there, when melodies were consigned to the staff.
11. Marie-Elisabeth DUCHEZ, “Des neumes à la portée,” Notations et séquences, Honoré Champion, Paris, 1987, p. 60.
12. D. Eugène CARDINE, “Vue d’ensemble sur le chant grégorien,” E.G. XVI (1977), p. 184
13. Dom GUÉRANGER, Lettre d’approbation à la méthode de chanoine
Gontier, op. cit. infra., p. xii.
14. José DA COSTA RODRIGUEZ, Les répercussions humanistes sur le
plain-chant, mémoire de maître d’éducation musicale, dirigé par
Edith Weber, Paris Sorbonne, 1975 (mimeographed). Contrary
to a too well-spread legend, one cannot impute to Palestrina the
mutilations inflicted on the Gregorian repertoire. (D. Pierre
COMBE, Histoire de la restoration du chant grégorien, Solesmes, 1969, p.
15. Dom Louis SOLTNER, Solesmes et Dom Guéranger (1805-1875),
Solesmes, 1974.
16. Chanoine GONTIER, Méthode raisonnée de plain-chant, Le Mans,
1859, p. 14.
17. D. GUÉRANGER, Institutions liturgiques, t. 1 (1840), p. 306.
18. Lambillotte, Nisards, and Danjou worked in the same area.
19. Ordered, promulgated and printed by the Holy See, this is
currently called the “Vatican” edition.
20. Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963), no. 117.
21. Especially the questions relating to the passage from the oral
to the written.
the liturgy
The Church acknowledges Gregorian
chant as specially suited to the Roman
Vatican II
The Roman Catholic liturgy gives to chant a place of
great significance. Many actions of the rite are accompanied by chants (processions, for example). At certain moments the ritual action amounts merely to a
sung text, by the soloist or by all the assembly (chants
between the readings, for example). Since chant is
bound so intimately to the liturgy, it is clear that a survey of Gregorian chant requires a good knowledge of
the liturgy.
The heart of the liturgy is the celebration of the Mass
or Eucharist, sacred action in the course of which the
Church, solemnly united in the diversity of her members, renews through the ministry of priests, the gestures and words of Christ on the evening of the Last
Supper, the eve of the day when He delivered Himself
freely to death for the salvation of mankind. For two
thousand years, in accordance with the explicit order
of the Christ,1 the Church has never stopped repeating
these gestures,2 and it is through this repetition, Sunday after Sunday, that she transmits them to us. Since
the liturgy
the sacred chant developed and grew with this celebration and now dresses it like a garment, we can see how
it is the repetition of the liturgical action itself that has
brought the chant down to us.
Everything spread from Jerusalem where the Church
was founded, and from Antioch, where, for the first
time, Jesus’ disciples received the name “Christians.”
The celebration of the Last Supper constitutes a radical departure of Christian worship from that of Judaism. However, even if the first Christians quickly separated themselves from the sacrificial practices of the
Temple of Jerusalem, they inherited much from Jewish
ritual practices.3 Thus, the synagogal rite for the morning of the Sabbath, composed of scriptural readings,
chants, commentaries on the Scriptures and prayers,4 is
the origin of the first part of the Mass. Simply, the celebration of Mass found its place on Sunday,5 the memorial of the Resurrection, instead of on Saturday, that is,
the Sabbath; it integrated the Christian writings that
compose the New Testament and gave rise to a liturgical creativity that led, among other things, to energetic
apostolic clarification.6
The Christian liturgy also includes the Liturgy of the
Hours or the Divine Office. This set of prayers punctuates the different moments of the day, and achieves a
veritable consecration of time. The cycle of the Hours
developed gradually, also from Jewish roots.7 Even
though this daily prayer touches all Christians, it is in
the monastic environment that it receives its definitive
form. The Rule of Saint Benedict (ca. 530) exercises a
decisive influence in this respect. The day is structured
around two major celebrations: Lauds in the morning,
the liturgy
and Vespers in the evening. The morning rising is anticipated shortly after the middle of the night by the
long Office of Readings (Matins), in which readings
(from the Bible, the Church Fathers, and the lives of
the saints) have a notable place. During the day, the
community meets again for the “Little Hours:” Prime8
in the beginning of the morning, Terce at about
10:00am, Sext at the end of morning, None in the beginning of the afternoon, and Compline just before retiring for the night.
For Saint Benedict the Divine Office is above all a
work of praise:
“Therefore, let us offer in these moments our
praise to our Creator, and at night, let us get up again
to praise Him.”
The chanting of the Psalms and the reading of Holy
Scripture hold the highest priority here; but Saint
Benedict also admits some non-scriptural poetry
(hymns) and other ecclesiastical compositions (litanies, blessings and prayers).
A testimony of Tertullien, from the beginning of the
third century, describes for us the structure of the Sunday liturgy:
“They read the Scriptures, sing Psalms, pronounce
homilies and say prayers.”
This testimony provides us with a diagram of what we
could call “the basic liturgical unit:”
reading – chant – prayer
the liturgy
Easter Vigil:
Canticle connected to the reading from the Book of Exodus
the liturgy
We can place this schema in parallel with the various
liturgical ministers and the books containing their respective parts:
This schema remains intact today in the first part of
the present Easter Vigil. Seven times this succession of
reading - chant - prayer unfolds. The third time, we see
yet today the Canticle come organically out of the reading. (cf. p. 22).
Here we are in the presence of an archaic musical
genre, that of the lectio cum cantico, in which reading
and chant are given by the same liturgical minister,
since by this time (second to third centuries), the vocal
involvement of the people was already reduced, most
likely being limited to a few simple acclamations, that
is, responses to the celebrant and his ministers.
Centuries will add new rituals that will ulimately constitute the solemn Mass of the eighth century,11
nonetheless, without changing the basic schema. It will
subsist within all the ritual filigree of the celebration
(p. 25).
In the solemn liturgical celebration the community
is organized according to the diversity of its members.
Each of them participates according to his proper
role.12 The Gregorian chant adapts itself to this situa-
the liturgy
tion by granting to each of the ministers a repertoire
adapted to his abilities.
The celebrant
The priest received through the Sacrament of Holy
Orders the power to sanctify and to teach the faithful.
It is he that presides over the assembly, but he is not especially prepared to take an elaborate musical/vocal
part. His repertoire, therefore, remains in an extremely simple style. The quasi-syllabic recitatives utilize a reduced scale with variations limited to a simple
punctuation of the text. Memorized easily, they are recalled every day and are a matter of the pure oral tradition. Simplicity, however, is not poverty in this case.
The celebrant does not lose anything aesthetically in
these simple cantillations. Didn’t Mozart himself write
that he would have given all his compositions for the
glory to have composed the melody of the Gregorian
preface (p. 26)?
The people
The assembly responds to the spoken parts of the celebrant and his ministers with short acclamations that
remain in the same very simple style. Little by little, a
popular repertoire is elaborated, composed of chants
for the Ordinary of the Mass (Kyriale), hymns for the
Office and certain chants for processions.
Schola cantorum
The schola is composed of a group of singers, who are
more gifted vocally, more experienced, and who place
their musical talents at the service of the sacred celebration, thereby accomplishing a genuine liturgical
Benedicamus Dño
Benedicamus Dño
Short Litany
Short Reading
& Psalms
N.B.: This table is to be read as an historical and pedagogical schema and not a theological one. It is quite evident
that prayer shapes the whole celebration, and especially the Canon.
Canon - Sanctus
Agnus Dei
Communion + Ps.
Ite Missa est
Benedicamus Dño
Short Litany
Gospel Canticle
Long Readings
Great Responsory
Te Deum
& its verses
Short Reading
& Psalms
MATINS (Off. Readings)
√ Dñe labia mea
√ Deus in adiutorium
Short Responsory
& Psalms
√ Deus in adiutorium
Reading Readings
Introit + Psalm
the liturgy
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Ominus vo-bíscum.
√ Sursum corda.
Et cum spí#@ri-tu @tu- o.
@ Habémus @ad Dómi#num. @√ Grá[email protected]@as
ªagámus Dómino [email protected] nostro.
[email protected] @iustum est.
@E#re [email protected] iustum est, æquum et sa#lu-tá#re, @nos
∞@ti-bi semper et u#bíque grá[email protected] á#ge#re:@Dómi#ne,@sancte Pater,
ºomnípotens ætérne De-us:@@per Christum Dóminum nostrum.
∞Per quem hó[email protected] commé[email protected]æ@repa#ra- ti- ó#nis eµúl-
º@sit, qui- a, dum nostra fra#gí[email protected] a @tu-o Verbo suscípi-tur,
∞humána mortá#[email protected] @non solum @in perpé-tu-um transit honó-
ºrem, sed nos quoque, mirándo consó[email protected], @reddit ætérnos.
º∞Et @íde- o, cho#ris angé[email protected] so-ci- @á-ti,
te laudámus @in
ºgá[email protected] confi#téntes
Preface for the Mass of Christmas
the liturgy
ministry13. The repertoire of the schola is musically
more elaborate, consisting of the processional chants:
the Introit, the Offertory and the Communion.
Among the members of the schola we find true specialists, the “soloists.” The Gregorian repertoire reserves to them the most difficult pieces with the most
highly ornamented melodies: the chants between
readings. As all are seated, they actively listen to what
is, in fact, “the musical homily.”
The Gregorian repertoire, thus, comes to us bound
intimately to the liturgy of the Roman Church. As the
Fathers of the Church were producing the exegesis of
Divine Revelation through rhetorical and literary
processes, another commentary on Divine Revelation
was being elaborated at the same time, one of a lyrical
and musical type: a “musical patrology.”
1. “Do this in memory of Me.” (Luke 22: 19).
2. Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 6 and 106.
3. The Acts of the Apostles testifies that the distinction between
the two religions developed progressively, with Christianity appearing for a long time as a simple sect of the Judaism. The synagogues of the diaspora provide the first network of evangelism in
the Mediterranean basin (Acts 13: 5,14). Note, too, the resolutions passed by the first “Council” of Jerusalem (Acts 15).
4. Regarding this question, see first Israël ADLER, “Histoire de la
musique religieuse juive,” Encyclopédie des Musiques Sacrées
(Labergerie, Paris, 1968), vol. I, p. 469-493. Then, on the relationship between Jewish and Christian chant, see Solange CORBIN,
L'église à la conquête de sa musique (Paris, 1960), p. 52-70; and Eric
the liturgy
WERNER, The Sacred Bridge, 2 volumes (New York, 1959 and 1984),
which is controversial in places.
5. From the Latin dominica die: “the day of the Lord.”
6. Cf. I Cor 11: 17-34 and 14: 26-39.
7. Acts shows again Peter and John going to the Temple for the
prayer of the ninth hour (Acts 3: 1).
8. This Office appeared later than the others, and for reasons
strictly monastic. The liturgical reforms following the Vatican
Council II (1963-1965) have suppressed it.
9. Règle des moines, c. 16.
10. De anima, IX, 4.
11. This order of the Mass is preserved in descriptions from documents that go as far back as the eighth century: cf. ANDRIEU, op.
cit. supra, and dom Jacques FROGER, Les chants de la messe aux VIIIe et
IX siècles, (Desclée & cie, 1950).
12. Instruction Musicam sacram (8 mars 1967), nos. 5, 6 et 11.
13. Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 29.
the chant of the psalms
The Psalm was recited with such minimal inflections of the voice that this recitation resembled speech more than song.
Saint Augustine
The traditional and ancestral manner of transmitting a sacred teaching, such as we see in religions that
venerate the Bible as well as in other religious cultures,
has received the technical name “cantillation.” This
neologism, created in the beginning of the twentieth
century,2 designates a style in which the speech has the
quality of music, but in which this quality plays the roles
of regulator and of a kind of solemn vesture. It is a sort
of declamation that is midway between speaking and
singing and that has for its goal not to decorate the
text, but to amplify the speech.3 The cantillation gives
to words a burst of volume and a range that they would
not have in a simple declaration; it gives them a very
specific presence, one adapted to the holy nature of a
sacred space. From the instant it resounds, it evokes
another world and generates an ethos propitious to religious rites. However, its musical material remained so
rudimentary that it hardly deserves the name of chant.
It is in this context of such “stylized speech” 4 that we
must situate the birth of Western sacred chant. It was a
the chant of the psalms
I ”«»4««5««6«»«6««6««»«6«»«6««5««4««G«««4««±»«6««§»(’»G» ««±»«4««5««6«»—
”««6«m«7««6«»«5««6««=«»4««««5«««»»6»««»6««6««6««6««»»6««»6««»»6»«» 6»««»6««6«m«7»—
@ºN#ci-pit liber Lamenta#ti- ó-num. @Aleph. Quómodo
ºsedet so#la cí-vi-tas plena pópu#lo! Facta @est qua-si @vídu- a
º∞dómina @gé[email protected]; princeps [email protected]á#rum facta @est sub tri-
ºbú[email protected] Beth.
@Plo#rans plo#rat in nocte, et lácrimæ e#ius in
∞[email protected]íl#lis e-ius; non est qui consolé-tur [email protected] ex ómnibus ca-
º@ris @e-ius: omnes @amí-ci e#ius @spre-vé#runt e- am @et facti
ºsunt [email protected]
in#imí- ci.
Holy Week: Lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah
the chant of the psalms
style that was assimilable by an assembly at a time when
the faithful did not have the capacity to read; therefore, it was one that was well suited to solemn, oral
The musical material of the cantillation is extremely
limited, generally confined to only a few degrees and
rarely exceeding the ambitus of a fourth. One of these
degrees assumes the function of the principal note,
and the others function as its ornaments. However, the
word ornament must not be taken here to have the
meaning that it donned in the later musical tradition.
Ornaments, “agréments,” of classical music have a superfluous aspect. The ornamentation of the cantillation is, on the other hand, absolutely essential. It consists of neighboring/contrasting degrees, which, when
heard, give prominence to the principal note and also
clarify the modal structure.
All musicality is ordained by the text: the ornamentation is in the service of words or the phrase; the
rhythm is one of solemn declamation.
This musical enhancement of the text is assured by
three processes:
– the accentuation,
– the punctuation,5
– the jubilus.
In reality, it is analysis that distinguishes these
processes. They are not completely independent of each
other. The two last are particularly closely overlapped.
the chant of the psalms
@N c◊mba#lis * be#ne-sonántibus laudá[email protected]@@@Dóminum.
E u o u a e.
The melodic shape of the Latin word
@@E- á-tus homo qui corrí#pi-tur a De- o; @incre#papunctum
@ @@ti- ónem ergo Omnipo-téntis @@ne @@réprobes. @Qui- a @ipse
vúlne-rat @[email protected] medé-tur, pércu-tit,@ et @manus e-ius saná- @@@bunt.
@… Quis e#nim @@cognóvit sensum Dómi-ni?
Tone for for the readings of the Office
the chant of the psalms
The accentuation
The languages of the Mediterranean basin generally
have a singing quality, and they are endowed with accents that are somewhat melodic. Such was also the
case with the old Latin, according even to Cicero’s testimony, which recognized in words a cantus obscurior,
that is, a latent or hidden song.6
In the Gregorian cantillation this singing quality results in a tendency toward a melodic elevation of the accented syllable; in elaborated musical compositions
the accented words end up even taking the shape of the
melodic curve of a perfect arc.
This is the phenomenon of the accentus (from ad cantum: “for the chant”); the accent, “the soul of the
word and the germ of musicality,”7 that orders all musical invention. Because there is a veritable dynamic in
the Latin word, the word itself is a melodic movement.
The accented (or tonic) syllable lifts itself upward,
while, correlatively, the final syllable rests on an architectural note.8 The other syllables are carried along in
this movement: pre-tonic syllables in preparation of
the high point and post-tonic syllables in transition toward the final, all in the unity of only one rhythm, that
of the word.
The punctuation
Punctuation is an integral part of discourse. It is,
first of all, a vital requirement for the reader, who can
fulfill his role only on the condition of being able to
take breaths and, in the process of so doing, of momentarily interrupting the sung delivery. It is also required just as much by the listener, who is guided to-
the chant of the psalms
ward a full understanding of the sung discourse by the
prioritized ensemble of pauses, divisions and caesuras
treated tactfully by the singer.
Moreover, isn't silence also part of the music? Is not
the silence its breathing and its life?
In fact, several centuries before the invention of musical notation, the first signs that appear in manuscripts
are related to those of punctuation. They indicate to
the reader the less important, normal and more important punctuations. Questions are often specified by
means of a special sign. These first musical indications,
called ecphonetics, testify to an oral tradition that has
the tendency of placing caesuras in the discourse on
lower pitches, and more precisely on the degree immediately below that of the recitation note. As we will see
while studying the pentatonic scale, this degree of the
caesura is situated a whole-step or a minor third below
the note of cantillation.
This process of descending to lower notes for the finals – and correlatively ascending to higher notes for
the accented syllables – will develop and grow in the
tones for the readings, and will contribute to the development of Gregorian composition.
The jubilus
The third musical process utilized by the primitive
cantillation seems to be very archaic. It is the jubilus,
or melisma. This is a moment of pure music that interrupts the syllabic recitation and contrasts with it,
while employing “a vocalise” on a single syllable. According to the unforgettable expression of Saint Au-
the chant of the psalms
gustine,9 the chant “then liberates itself from syllablic
limits.” The jubilus is not any less an authentic form of
musical composition bound to the cantillation: the jubilus is not music from which someone has deleted the
words, or from which something is missing. It is a song
beyond words, beyond the somewhat narrow concepts
that the words evoke.
The tie between the jubilus and the cantillation is of
a functional order: the jubilus is traditionally situated
on the final syllable of the penultimate logical division
of the discourse.10 Over the centuries, this traditional
placement of the jubilus, which goes back to the ancient cantillation of the Jewish Bible, was little by little
forgotten. The jubilus was moved progressively toward
the ends of phrases and especially toward the word accents, which were perceived as a lyric and expressive
pole of the composition.
G ”««6««6««6«»«6«««6««»6««6««»«6«»«5««»≠»««5«»«5«««6««6«««6««««6««7««»—
Ló-ri- a @in @excélsis De- o.
@Et @in [email protected]@pax homí-
º nibus bonæ vo#luntá- tis. @@Laudámus te. @ @Be#ne#dí[email protected]
º@@Ado#rámus @te.
@ @Glo-ri-fi-cámus @@te.
@Grá[email protected]@as @á#gimus
@[email protected] gló[email protected]@@[email protected]@am.
First strophe of the Ambrosian Gloria
the chant of the psalms
The basic liturgical unit studied in the previous
chapter has taught us to recognize the lectio cum cantico
as the ancestor of Western sacred chant. Literarily, it
was first a scriptural Canticle, then later a Psalm. But
what shape, what musical style did this chant take over
the course of the centuries?
Psalmody without refrain (or in directum)
The liturgy of the first two centuries is not directly accessible to us. It is only known only by means of a set of
deductions. During this early time, the chanting of the
Psalm is not yet very distinct from the reading [of the
Scripture lesson]. It is the same minister who gives the
reading and the Psalm successively. The cantillation of
the Psalm is hardly more ornamented than the reading, and it joins harmoniously with the reading.11 The
chant is assigned to the soloist, while the assembly exercises its involvement in the liturgy simply by praying
through listening. This is perfectly appropriate during
a period when the education of the faithful is yet somewhat limited and the texts are not yet widely disseminated. The music is recalled solely through the oral
tradition: it is a rare commodity. Musical creativity is
encountered only in the soloist's repertoire, and even
there it touches only the ornamentation.
The musical form is adapted to this situation both
historically and liturgically. The psalmist “unfolds”
the Canticle or the Psalm, verse after verse, “in a line”
(“trait” from the Latin tractus), or “directly”, that is,
without intervention of the assembly, in the same man-
the chant of the psalms
ner that he would a reading. Saint Benedict speaks
about singing the Psalm in directum, which we can translate today as psalmody without refrain.
We find, in the melodic shape of the elaborated Gregorian pieces, some of the characteristics of psalmody.
The recitative notes of the cantillation are, in general,
easily identified, according to the three musical
processes studied above. Some special melodic formulas are adapted to the beginnings of verses (intonations) and others to the ends of verses (terminations).
When the middle of the verse is ornamented, it too has
a special formula (mediant). The whole of the piece is
generally introduced by a solemn intonation, which is
sung only once, and finished by an amply developed
formula, which has a strong tendency toward the melismatic (example p. 22).
To recognize this musical form, that is, the psalmody
without refrain, in the repertoire as it has come down
to us, it is necessary to know how to disregard both the
later ornamentation that may be covering it and especially the “singing personnel.” These archaic forms
were initially reserved to the soloist, but subsequently
entered into the domain of the schola cantorum.
Heeding these precautions, the psalmody without refrain chant remains today recognizable in the Versicle
of Vespers, in the Canticles of Good Friday and Holy
Saturday, and in the Tracts of Lent.12
Psalmody with refrain (or responsorial)
The next stage (third to fourth centuries) is one of
active intervention of the assembly in the psalmody.
the chant of the psalms
E “««2««V««»«B««4«««««6«»«§»(’««4«5»?»§»’"»(«676»§»(’«»"««»+««»4««6««G««»—
@ @
@@[email protected] @di-xi, @Dómi- @ne,
* Mi-se-ré-
@re @@me- i. √ Sana @@@á#nimam @[email protected],@@[email protected]@a @peccá#vi ti-
√ Gló[email protected]@a @@Pa#tri,@@@et Fí[email protected] o,
et @Spi-rí-
@@tu- @i @Sanc#to.
Short Responsory with melisma in the traditional place
V ”«»~««N««G«»G«»F«««3«««4««5««»6««««»6««5««5«+«5««5««5««»6«««»» 6««5»»*
@E#ní[email protected],
@@sa#lu-tá-ri @nostro.
fes#si- ó#ne
@exsultémus @@@Dómino; iu#bi-lémus [email protected]
@@@Præ-occupé[email protected]@fá#ci- @em e-ius
@@et in psalmis @iu#[email protected]émus e- @@i.
Matins (monastic): strophe of the invitatory Psalm
in con#
the chant of the psalms
The historic testimonies of this are innumerable.13
They attest to the immediate and general success of a
new form of the chant in the West: the Responsorial
In this style the soloist loses none of his autonomy,
and he continues to sing the entire Psalm. However,
the assembly answers him, at the end of every strophe
or every verse, with the help of a simple and very easily
memorized refrain, which the psalmist intoned for the
assembly at the beginning of the Psalm. The oral tradition thus continues to reign.
The first refrain utilized for this idea of the assembly
“answering” the cantor is evidently the first verse of the
Psalm, or more precisely the second half of this verse.
“To answer,” then, becomes for the assembly the continuation of the text intoned by the cantor. Another refrain, alleluia, was also used from beginning, at least on
Sundays, since it evoked the Resurrection.
Eventually there came a time when answering “mechanically” the beginning of the Psalm, was discontinued in deference to the use of a verse chosen from the
interior verses of the Psalm, that is, a text more evocative of or more in keeping with either the sacred mystery or the liturgical season (thus the notion of “selected verse”).
In the Gregorian repertoire, it is in the Short Responsory of the Office that the responsorial form is
most visible today, even though the Psalm is abridged.
Some have even preserved the traditional melisma (cf.
p. 38).
the chant of the psalms
Under a considerably “decorated garment” we find
still the vestige of psalmody with refrain (responsorial)
in the A - B - A form of the Gradual of the Mass and the
Great Responsory of the Office.
The invitatory chant in the monastic liturgy appears
as an ancient Psalm without refrain which has been
adapted to the responsorial form.14
The question of alternation (antiphony)
With the development of the monastic life (fourth to
fifth centuries), the Christian prayer is profoundly
marked by the daily or weekly recitation of the entire
Psalter, per ordinem, that is, in the order in which it is
presented in the Scriptures: Psalm 1, 2, 3... Communities of monks and of nuns live this recitation-meditation as a means of perpetual prayer. They learn the
Psalter by heart, and they might possess some of the
manuscript copies. The celebration of the liturgical
prayer, as Saint Benedict codifies it, plays a large part in
this recitation of the Psalter. The community is organized into two choirs which face each other and alternate the verses.
This alternation is compatible with the two forms of
psalmody studied above. In psalmody without refrain,
the verses unfold one after another, in alternation
from one choir to the other.15 In the psalmody with refrain, this alternation can be preserved, but with the
two choirs joining together to sing the refrain after
every verse. The choirs will end up one day singing the
refrain together only at the beginning and at the end
the Psalm. The alternated recitation of verses is then
framed by the singing of the refrain. This practice be-
the chant of the psalms
comes inevitable when the refrain becomes long and
develops musically.
There is, however, at least from the time of Saint
Benedict, an ambiguity in the terminology.16 Indeed,
in the Latin Rule of the Monks the word antiphona seems
to designate the alternation (which refers to the style
of execution of the chant) as much as it does the refrain
of the Responsorial Psalm, that is, the antiphon.
This ambiguity in the vocabulary led all the commentators to envisage a third form of chant, which they
baptized as “antiphonal” chant, and of which they saw
examples in the “antiphons” of the Mass (Introit,
Communion) and of the Office. However, such a distinction is relevant to the execution of the chant or to
the “singing personnel,” and not to the musical form
of the work being sung. In reality, an analysis faithful
to the liturgical and musical evidence can retain only
two forms of psalmody: without refrain (in directum)
and with refrain (responsorial), both of which can be
executed with or without alternation.
The musical destiny of the antiphon
While being detached from the succession of verses
and being relegated to the beginning and the end the
Psalm, the refrain progressively acquires a certain autonomy. Soon composed for itself, the antiphon becomes the focus of unequaled musical invention.
From this time on, the word “antiphon” will designate any piece that is sung with a verse of a Psalm, even
a piece as ornamented as the Introit.
the chant of the psalms
However, the “musical career” of the antiphon does
not stop there. In later books the term is applied to all
pieces that do not fit into any specific category, even
though they are sung without even one Psalm verse!
Thus the famous collection of “Marian antiphons,” of
which the best known is the Salve Regina.
The musical material of the cantillation is rudimentary, limited in the number of its scale degrees and in
its ambitus. Nevertheless, it is organized. When we
study the oldest cantillations of the Latin repertoire of
the West, we note that they are ordered around a principal scale degree, that note around which the other
sounds of the melody make ornamental figures. In
other words, in these primitive melodies a single degree assumes all architectural functions: it is the dominant of the composition, the final of the piece, and possibly the tenor (reciting note) of the Psalm.
Thus, in this Sunday antiphon, the structural note of
the cantillation is ornamented above by a whole-step
and below by a half-step:
@@L# le- @lú[email protected], * alle-lú[email protected] @@@@@E @u o @u a e.
On the other hand, in the following example, the
structural note is surrounded, above and below, by
the chant of the psalms
A”«»∫««G«««N««5«+«6«m»7««∫««G«««N««6»»«»5»«»5» » @≠«»»5««4««5««6««4««5««≠
@@L-le- lú-ia,*@al-le#@lú[email protected], @[email protected] @@@@@@E @@[email protected]@@@o @@u @@a @@e.
Finally, the note of recitation here is ornamented
above by a half-step and below by a whole-step:
L ”«»∫«»««5««««5«»«4««»5«m«?«««»«» 5«m«7«»«6«»««≠««6««6«m»7««5«m»7««6«»»≠
@@@Auda,@* Ie-rú-sa-lem, @Dó#mi#num. @ E @u @[email protected]@@u @a e.
When we search, in the facts, to find which notes are
used in this primitive repertoire, we are always brought
back to one of these three cases. Musicologists have
called these three archaic modes “mother-modes,” because all the later melodic developments originate in
them.17 To speak of them using solfege is delicate since
they preexist the invention of note names – and even of
all musical theory – by several centuries. However, we
cannot escape its use entirely.
If we attempt to express these three modes with the
help of the classic solfege vocabulary, we can give them
the anachronistic names of DO (C), RE (D) and MI (E)
and place them in the context of a pentatonic scale,
that is, without half-steps. It is even possible to schematize the specific structure of each of these archaic
modes. In doing so, there appears a pentatonic
“mother-cell” which groups its most important degrees
together. The recognition of a mother-cell permits the
identification of a corresponding “mother-mode,”
even when it is integrated into a more complex composition. We end, then, with the following diagram:
the chant of the psalms
Evolution by the ascent of the tenor and accents
”«»4««5««6««»4«««»«» 5««F«««2«««»»4««5«««»«5««4««≠«»6«»6«»4«»N«»5«»4««≠
@Ene#dí[email protected]*@Dómi-nus [email protected] me- us. @E @u @[email protected]@[email protected]@a @e.
ascent of the Psalm a third from the final of the antiphon
E#ni- @@ent @ad @te @* [email protected]@@detrahé#bant @ti-bi,
[email protected] ado-
rábunt ve#stí[email protected]@a
pe-dum @tu- ó-rum. @@E u o u a e.
ascent of the Psalm a fourth from the final of the antiphon
the chant of the psalms
Mother-mode C
Mother-mode D
Mother-mode E
Mother-cell g - a - C
a - c - D
c - d - E
The three archaic modes constitute the first state,
the basic structure of Western melodies. Everywhere,
they were submitted to an evolutionary process that
took the development of modality in two directions.
The ascent of accents and of tenors (reciting notes)
A piece in one of the archaic modes, when it was
sung with a Psalm, easily acquired for this Psalm a
“tenor” note which was higher than the dominant of
composition of the piece. The refrain (given to the
people) remained unaltered, but the Psalm (given to
the soloist) began to be sung a third or a fourth higher
than the original note (cf. p. 44).
This evolution may have been caused by a soloist's
temperament, eager to make his voice impressive by
singing on the more brilliant, elevated notes, while the
assembly's response remains unaltered. It may also
have been a genuine process of composition. Thus, in
the Introits De ventre (p. 76) and Resurrexi (G.T. 196),
the tenor of the Psalm, barely sketched in the antiphon, contrasts with the antiphon in a very pleasing
manner. The raising of the tenor may also have happened purely to satisfy theorists' concern, that is, the integration of a piece into the theoretical setting of the
eight modes of the Octoechos.
the chant of the psalms
Modal evolution by the descent of the final of the antiphon
”««6«»«5«««««6««G«««»«» «3««4««»»5««4««3««»≠««6««5««6««J«««G«««3««»»≠
”««H«««6««5««««»»«3««4««5«««««F««»»«2«»«2«»»«≠««6««6««5««4««5««N«» » » »≠
Audá#te @* Dóminum @de @@cæ[email protected] @@@[email protected]@u [email protected]@@u a e.
“««6««6««6«»»«»5««6««»»«4»««3««5«»»+«»«4«««5«»«» 6««4«»» »3««»4««3««»3««»≠
Ene-fac, @Dómi#ne, * bo#nis @et rectis corde.
the chant of the psalms
Correlative to this ascent of the tenor, we see in the
refrain a tendency to raise the accents toward higher
scale degrees. Thus, an internal dynamism in the composition develops as the melody rises, along with a tendency to enlarge the intervals.
Such a tendency with the rising melody is well within
the nature of the accent. It is the progressive blossoming of cantus obscurior studied above (p. 32-33).
This evolution by means of the ascent of the tenors
and accents eventually results in the development of
new modes. These are not as archaic, but they remain
very near the mother-modes. We might call them
“semi-archaic” modes.
The descent of finals
Another evolution occurs in the sense of the lowering of pitches, similar to what happens in speech: the
ends of pieces gravitate toward lower pitches (p. 46):
Antiphon Clamor meus / Rectos decet / Laudate
Antiphon Auribus / Dñe in cælo / Portio mea / Benefac
Bipolar modality and the table of the Octoechos
These two phenomena of evolution from the archaic
melodies play against each other in a complementary
manner. Ultimately, the pieces of the repertoire – that
is, a great majority of them – thus partake of a bipolar
Tenor of the Psalm
Final of the Antiuphon
plagal modes
2nd mode
1st mode
4th mode
6th mode
5th mode
3rd mode
8th mode
7th mode
Official table of the Octoechos
@Omi#nus * [email protected]@o#vis ad víc-timam [email protected] est,
@@et non @[email protected]é- ru-it @[email protected] @su-um.
@[email protected]@@[email protected] [email protected] @[email protected]@@@a e.
¢««7««»?««6««««?«««6«»«»H»««»3»«»«»N»«»4»«» 4»««»≠«»»6««6««6««5««V««4«««≠«««««««»
@-blá-tus est, @*@ @[email protected] ipse @@vó#lu-
peccá-ta @@nostra @[email protected] @portá-vit.
E @u o @@u @a @@e.
the chant of the psalms
Depending on the interval that separates these two
poles (the dominant of the composition or the tenor of
the Psalm and the final of the piece), and depending
on the organization of the scale degrees within this interval, that is, the placement of half-steps and wholesteps, the modes came to be designated by means of
numbers or by means of specific terms developed in
the Medieval Period (Protus, Deuterus, etc.). In spite of
the serious inconveniences that this nomenclature presents, writers have commented upon it universally;
therefore, it must be mentioned.
The major inconvenience of this table lies in the fact
that it conceals, under an single mode number, pieces
coming from two different evolutions and which are actually constituted of different “modal types.”
Antiphon Dominus mother-mode D
ascent of the tenor to f
ascent of the accent to f and g
Antiphon Oblatus
mother-mode C ( = f)
descent of the final to a ( = d)
Both receive the same modal number (2), because
they have the same final and the same tenor, but they
actually constitute two “modal types,” different internally from the 2nd mode, since their dominants of composition, and, therefore, their aesthetics are completely different
On the contrary, some “modal equivalences” can be
detected. Thus, two antiphons assigned to different
modes can have the same intonation: Tradetur enim
(1st mode) and Quando natus es (3rd mode).
the chant of the psalms
least to western Africa. Finally, it is also observed in
Latin America.
In the vocabulary of music theorists since Guido
d'Arezzo, it can be notated in three ways:
It is a fact that there exist some Gregorian pieces,
from the Mass and from the Office, that are fully constructed from this scale: Communion In splendoribus
(p. 78), Hymn Immense cæli conditor.
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∞∞rent, @@aquæ @[email protected]énta @@dí#vi#dens, @cæ#lum @de-dísti @lími-tem,
The three middle degrees of this scale are the three
notes of the mother-modes of archaic psalmody, from
which developed the modal evolution studied above.
The two lower degrees are the first finals to which the
evolution of the archaic modality leads by means of the
descent of the final; and the two higher degrees are
the first dominant peaks reached by the ascent of the
The asterisk written inside the minor third designates the pien. It is a weak, non structural note, which
the chant of the psalms
may often be absent or which may also appear in the
melody, but with a negligible weight. It is mobile, that
is to say, it moves up or down, depending on the “center of gravity” of the melody, toward the top or toward
the bottom of the minor third. This phenomenon is
characteristic of chants in the oral traditions.19
It is quite remarkable that the primitive musical writings immediately made use of some special signs to
translate certain particulars of this scale: the quilisma
for the weak degree (pien), and the stropha for the
strong degree, above the half-step. In the writing that
finally prevailed only one pien remained mobile, b, with
two possible positions: b-natural and b-flat, in principal
exclusive of each other.
The survey of the evolution of Gregorian modality,
from archaisms that we have just described up to the
composition of evolved modes, constitutes an entire
branch of world musicology, in which comparisons are
made between this repertoire and that of other ancient
repertoires. It is an integral part of the history of the
melodic language of the West.
There is in Gregorian chant a multitude of compositional layers, from the most archaic to the most recent.
A large part of the repertoire (especially that of the
Mass) underwent a considerable overhaul on behalf of
the schola, and it constitutes a repertoire of music
known since the sixth century. All these chants were
the chant of the psalms
then submitted to the Frankish-Roman hybridization
of the eighth century. In spite of all this, the old genres and the archaic scales have left many vestiges. This
is not, then, the least mysterious aspect of the origins of
the Gregorian: the reformers (of the sixth and the
eighth centuries) respected the old forms, while adapting them. Oral tradition obligates!
1. Concerning the manner of singing instituted by Saint Athanasius, Confessions X, 33.
2. Solange CORBIN, “La cantillation dans les rituels chrétiens,”
Revue de Musicologie XLVII (July, 1961), p. 5.
3. Solange CORBIN, L’Eglise a la conquête de sa musique (NRF Gallimard, 1960), p. 43.
4. Jacques VIRET, Le chant grégorien, L'Age d'homme, 1986, p. 65.
5. Marie-Noël COLETTE, “L'invention musicale dans le Haut
Moyen Age: ponctuation et transposition,” Analyse musicale 18, 1er
trimestre 1990, p. 7-17.
6. “Il y a dans le parler un chant latent... car la nature a inséré
dans chaque mot un son aigu” (De oratore, XVII, XVIII).
7. Anima vocis et seminarium musices, as beautifully expressed by
Martianus Capella (fifth-sixth centuries); cf. D. Paolo FERRETTI,
Esthétique grégorienne, Desclée et Cie, 1938 (repub. Solesmes 1989),
p. 9.
8. Jean JEANNETEAU, “Style verbal et modalité” in R.G. 36 (1957)
no. 4, p. 117.
9. Enarrationes in psalmos 32, 1.8 and 99, 4. It is important to note
that, in these texts Saint Augustine has in mind the chant of the
Responsorial Psalm, and not that of the Alleluia.
10. Msgr. E. T. MONETA-CAGLIO, Lo jubilus e le origini della salmodia
responsoriale, Ed. Jucunda Laudatio, Venice, S. Giorgio Maggiore,
the chant of the psalms
1976-77; D. Jean CLAIRE, “La place traditionnelle du mélisme dans
la cantillation,” Yuval, volume V, Jérusalem, 1986.
11. In certain manuscripts, the reader is warned of the passing
from the reading to the Canticle by the rubric: Hic mutas sonum
[Here, you change the melody]. Cf. P.M. t. XX, tables p. 37*.
12. D. Jean CLAIRE, Le répertoire grégorien de l'Office. Structure musicale et formes, Colloque International de Musicologie, Louvain 2528 septembre 1980. Olivier CULLIN, “Le répertoire de la
psalmodie in directum dans les traditions liturgiques latines,” E.G.
XXIII (Solesmes, 1989), p. 99.
13. The most illustrative is given by Saint Augustine in his commentary on the Psalms.
14. Saint Benedict seems clearly to envision two ways of singing
them: cum antiphona [with refrain], aut certe decantandum [or in
the manner of a cantus (= tract) = without refrain] (Règle c. 9, 3).
15. It is notably preserved in the singing of Compline (Règle c.
17, 9).
16. D. Jean CLAIRE, Le répertoire grégorien de l'Office, op. cit., p. 44.
17. D. Jean CLAIRE, “L'évolution modale dans les répertoires
liturgiques occidentaux,” R.G. 40 (1962), p. 236.
18. This is a pedagogical simplification. There are also more
complex cases of double evolution: the ascent of the tenor at the
same time as the descent of the final; or the descent in cascade, by
stages, of the final, etc. Cf. R.G. 40 (1962), p. 243, et 41 (1963),
p. 25.
19. The word pien comes from the Chinese language. It serves
to designate two notes that transform the Chinese traditional pentatonic range into a seven-note scale. Joseph YASSER, A theory of
evolving tonality, American Library of Musicology, New York 1932,
p. 34.
the office
When they come together in the church,
I do not see what Christians can do that is
more useful or holier than to sing the
Saint Augustine
Musical, as well as liturgical, study leads us to distinguish in the Gregorian repertoire, two distinctly differentiated entities: the Office and the Mass.
Chants of the Mass appear in the first notated manuscripts of the tenth century. Throughout all of Europe
these first manuscripts already have the same texts, the
same melodies and nearly the same rhythmic nuances:
they form a unified repertoire of monolithic proportions.
The chants of the Office are only found in manuscripts from about the year 1000 and later. Yet, they
transmit well to us forms from much earlier. In comparison to the chants of the Mass they constitute a
group that is much less homogeneous, containing successive layers, which testify to the evolution of this liturgical music. Submitted to various regional influences,
they are marked more often with musical and textual
variants, which are sometimes considerable.
the office
The Rule of Saint Benedict, written around 530, constitutes the most precise code that has been left to us
from early times concerning the organization of the
Liturgy of the Hours. However, a careful study of the
Rule1 shows that its author departs somewhat from a
pre-existing practice, that of the Church of Rome.
There were, therefore, two very early and concurrent
paths of liturgical practice: the Roman (or secular)
and the monastic. These two currents are not without
some influence on each other. Materially, the content
of the Office is the same in both practices: readings
from Holy Scripture, and the chanting of Psalms. However, the organization is slightly different. Both distribute the singing of the Psalter over the course of a
week,2 but each in a different order. The musical forms
are also common. However, the Rule of Saint Benedict
granted a considerable place to versified hymns in the
sixth century, while Rome only admitted them in the
thirteenth century.
An important difference between the Office and the
Mass is the lack of influence by the schola on the musical forms of the Office:
“The monastic and clerical environment is 'erudite'
from a biblical perspective, but it is hardly so from a
musical point of view, and nothing can change in its
daily practice.”
This is a remark that must be understood within the
context of the primitive monastic Office. Thus, it explains the presence of simple and archaic forms, which
witness to the oral tradition. By the time of the Carolingian Renaissance the situation is much different.
The monastic environment is now no longer a stranger
the office
to composition or to musical theory – quite to the contrary.
The musical forms of the Office are connected to the
major forms of psalmody: psalmody without refrain is
the origin of the Versicle, while responsorial psalmody
gave birth the Short Responsory, to the antiphon with
psalm tone, and to the Great Responsory with its verse.
The word verse, in a liturgical and psalmodic context, can have several meanings. Let us specify that this
discussion concerns the "Versicle of Vespers," the
repertoire’s shortest piece, which is sung after the
Hymn and before the Magnificat at Vespers.4
ª [email protected]á-tur, Dómine, o-rá[email protected] [email protected]
Everything demonstrates the antiquity of this piece.
First, its text. “May my prayer rise, Lord, as incense
before Your face”. It is the second verse – the most important – of the Psalm 140. In Jewish prayer it evokes
the vesperal offering of incense.5 In Christian worship,
the elevation of hands for the evening sacrifice (in the
continuation of the Psalm) symbolizes Christ’s death
on the cross on Good Friday afternoon. There is here
a remarkable point of contact between the Jewish and
Christian cults. The use of the Psalm 140 is attested for
the evening Office from the end of the fourth century.6
the office
Next, its modality. The version given in the present
books seems to have a bipolar modality f - d. However,
in several manuscripts there has been preserved a more
authentic version, in the archaic mode of D. In certain
ª [email protected]á-tur, Dómine, o-rá[email protected] [email protected]
cases the ornamentation is even reduced to a strict minimum, that is, to the degrees above and below the
Finally, its style: a syllabic recitation on a single note,
followed by a melisma on the final syllable of the last
word, a perfectly classic situation in the ancient pieces.
In certain manuscripts the melisma is found on the
next to last logical division of the text. It is precisely in
this rudimentary form that the Canticles of the Easter
Vigil have been preserved in the Beneventan repertoire (which is notably older than the Gregorian).
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The “Versicle of Vespers,” therefore, constitutes a
particularly archaic musical form in the Office, that of
psalmody without refrain. With time and other ritual
the office
developments, the chanting of Psalm 140 ended up
being reduced to a single verse, the most significant one.
The second manner of singing a Psalm in the Office
is in responsorial fashion. A soloist sings verses or
strophes, and the faithful answer him with a short formula that is repeated all through the Psalm. This form
of psalmody with refrain has been preserved up to
today in the Short Responsory (example p. 38).
Musical analysis easily distinguishes the part of the
soloist from that of the faithful. The name “responsory,” traditionally given to this piece, gives witness to
its original form. However, this original form is completely veiled by the present manner of execution,
which does not respect the authentic distribution of
roles between soloist and people. In addition, the number of verses sung today is reduced to the minimum.
Later came the addition of a doxology (Gloria Patri et
Filio et Spiritui Sancto), of which the melody, while evolving higher in the majority of cases, betrays the older
If we disregard the adventitious doxology, the Short
Responsory again recalls the archaic modality. We encounter it in various Responsories in each of the three
When the monastic Rules codified the recitation of
the entire Psalter over the course of a week (psalterium
currens), an upheaval occurred in the structure of the
the office
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Antiphon. Melody-type “IVA”
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E u @o u [email protected]@@e.
Antiphon. Centonized melody
the office
Office. The primitive forms of the chants – which have
just been presented – were from this time forward preceded by the singing of several Psalms.
We have seen above (p. 39-40) how this practice
sparked the history of a new musical genre, the antiphon. Sung for its own sake today, the antiphon introduces and concludes the psalmody.
In the considerable repertoire of antiphons (about
4000 authentic pieces), we distinguish various layers of
composition, all very identifiable musically.
Antiphons of the ferial Office, that is, of the daily
psalmody, are brief refrains, consisting of a few words
(a half-verse in general) and taken most often from the
beginning or the end of the Psalm. Many are still in an
archaic modality; most recall a modality that is hardly
evolved (p. 46).
The antiphons for the ancient feasts are more developed. These are often “melodic types” of three or four
incises in length. Demonstrating remarkable balance
and perfect construction, they are major musical works
in miniature. Their melodies could be adapted to
many texts without showing weakness (p. 60).
The third layer of composition, more recent, arises
from the process of centonization, composition by the
connection of melodic-verbal formulas, somewhat like
the creation of a mosaic.
Finally, in the later compositions, the musical invention gives itself free reign to succeed to the forms of the
madrigal and figured music that announce another
musical era (p. 66).
the office
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Great Responsory for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
the office
In the Night Office (Matins), the readings from the
Bible and from the Fathers are interspersed with
chants: the Reponsories. There are nine of them in
the Roman Office and twelve in the monastic Office.
These chants are connected to the psalmody with refrain (responsorial). They distinguish themselves
from the Short Responsory of the Office, by their musical length. The Reponsory consists of two parts: the
“respond,” which is sung by the schola, and the “verse,”
which is reserved to the soloist. After the verse the
schola repeats the “respond”:
– either in its entirety (Roman usage) as in the Gradual of the Mass; we speak of this repetition as a capite;
– or in part only (Gallican usage); we speak of this
repetition as a latere.
These chants are sometimes very ornate, in which
case the influence of the schola is distinctly evident.
Their composition arises from the processes of centonization. However, the soloist’s part, that is, the
“verse” of the Reponsory, received a stereotyped
melody, the same for all the Reponsories of a given
mode of the Octoechos. There are, therefore, eight
verse-types. They are highly defined psalmodic formulas, with their tenors, their intonations and their pentasyllabic cadences. These eight formulas can be
arranged neatly into a summary table in which such systematization of the shape and of the modal concept betrays the influence of theorists and permits us to fix the
date of this repertoire in the Carolingian period.
the office
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stus: @*@@Et [email protected]
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Great Responsory for Holy Week
the office
The liturgical situation, the processes of centonization, and its ornate style relate the Great Responsory
closely to the Gradual of the Mass. Like the Gradual, it
is par excellence a chant of meditation, a contemplative
musical commentary on the sacred text. In the climactic moments of the liturgical year (Christmas and Holy
Week), these Responsories perform somewhat the
function of the choir in the classic Greek tragedy: a
lyric and emotional commentary on the events of the
drama, designed to arouse the participation of the audience.
The repertoire of the Office, even though less known
than that of the Mass, constitutes a veritable summary
of the history of sacred music in the West. With its vestiges of different styles of psalmody, its slightly ornate
melodies, and a modality that demonstrates a continuity with its origins (the archaic modes), this repertoire
is a preferred choice for those who wish to begin learning about the Gregorian aesthetic.
1. C. CALLEWAERT, Sacris erudiri, Steenbrugge, 1940; Adalbert de
VOGÜÉ, La Règle de saint Benoît, tome V, Le Cerf, Paris 1971, p. 433.
2. The Psalter of the present Roman Office covers four weeks.
3. Jean CLAIRE, Le répertoire grégorien, op. cit. supra, p. 34.
4. A similar Versicle is sung at Lauds and Matins. [The French
word discussed here is “verset,” which can be translated to mean
a (Biblical) verse or a Versicle of the Office. In English, the normal practice is to differentiate between these terms. Thus, the explanation here may seem, in English, a bit superfluous.]
5. A narration of it is given in the beginning of the Gospel of
Saint Luke.
the office
6. Saint JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, Exp. in Ps. 140, P.G. t. LV, col. 426427.
7. Amalarius (ca. 835) says it was added by the modern popes
(De ordine antiphonarii, t. III, pars I, c. I, n. 13, Studi e testi 140,
* Gélbo- @@@@@e,
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A late antiphon
@ @se#pa- @@rá[email protected]
the proper of the mass
Every day, nourished with heavenly
bread, we say: “Taste and see how good is
the Lord.”
St. Jerome
The Tract and the Canticle represent the oldest layer
of the chants of the Mass, that of psalmody without refrain or in directum. In accordance with a law well
known to liturgists,1 we encounter them in the most
venerable places of the liturgical year, the Easter Vigil
and Lent.
The actual Canticles in the Easter Vigil are three in
number: Cantemus, Vinea and Attende. Each of these is
a (non-psalmodic) scriptural Canticle, originally tied
to a reading, according to the schema lectio cum cantico
(p. 23). The melody of these three Canticles is in the
8th mode. It fits comfortably into a summary table and
clearly demonstrates a psalmodic structure, with its
three tenors (g, b and c), and its formulas for intonations, mediants and terminations. Such a melody, capable of being adapted to different texts, is called a
During the Sundays of Lent, we encounter the
Tracts, that is, chants between readings that are related
the proper of the mass
Gradual of the 7th mode
the proper of the mass
to the same type of psalmody. Here it is not a Canticle
but a Psalm that is sung, verse after verse, without response by the assembly, originally by a soloist and later
by the schola.
The Tracts are of two melodies.2
One, in the 8th mode, is related to that of the Canticles of the Easter Vigil.
The other, in the 2nd mode, is found notably on the
First Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday, and Good Friday.
This is an ornate psalmody, with its set of formulas for
intonations, mediants and terminations. However, it is
not a melody-type. It visibly recalls the mother-mode
of D.
This is also a chant between readings. As is indicated
by its authentic name (responsorium graduale), it is a
form of psalmody with refrain (responsorial). In the
beginning, the assembly responded by means of a simple formula to the chant of the soloist, who sang the
successive verses of the Psalm. Such was the practice
during the time of Saint Augustine3 (end of the fourth
However, the Responsorial Psalm was changed and
taken over by the specialists of the Roman schola (fifthsixth centuries). The resulting expansion of the ornamentation coincided with an abbreviation of the text.
Indeed, the Psalm was reduced to two of its verses, the
“respond” of the Gradual and its “verse.” In certain
the proper of the mass
cases, it is the beginning of the Psalm that was preserved.4 In others, the “respond” of the Gradual was
chosen to evoke the sacred mystery or to comment
upon the previous reading; the “verse” is then taken
from the beginning of the Psalm,5 a vestige of a more
ancient psalmodic form; or from the continuation of
the Psalm,6 depending on the case. In still other cases,
the “respond” and the “verse” both seem to have been
the objects of a particular choice.7 In extreme situations, the respond and the verse are taken from two different Psalms!8
The responsorial form is always A - B - A form, at least
in its execution, since the “respond” of the chant is repeated after the “verse”.
If the composition of the Tracts was limited to two
somewhat archaic modes, with the composition of the
Gradual, we are further advanced in the course of
modal evolution. Indeed, the Graduals appear in only
four modes, the odd-numbered modes (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th)
of the Octoechos, that is, the authentic modes. In addition, it is necessary to add a family of Graduals, all
constructed on a single melody-type flowing distinctly
from the mother-mode of D: the Graduals of the 2nd
mode on a.9 The family of Graduals of the 5th mode is
also distinguished by its number (barely fifty, or half of
the entire number of Graduals).
Apart from the melody-type of the 2nd mode, the
Graduals are composed by centonization. This is a
process that consists of taking from a traditional musical collection a certain number of compatible, modal
formulas and chaining them together – like a mosaic or
the proper of the mass
a “patchwork” – in a manner that is adapted well to the
text to be sung. Centonization is the basis of the compositional process for a large part of the Gregorian
repertoire; it is not reserved to the Graduals.
Regarding its origins, this is the most mysterious of
all the chants of the Proper. A reference by Saint Augustine10 concerning an African Church at the end of
the fourth century reputedly constitutes the first testimony of a chant connected to the ritual of the Offertory. Because of the close relations between North
Africa and Rome, many commentators are inclined to
think that the Offertory chant also existed in Rome in
the fifth century.
In descriptions of the Mass from the eighth century,
the rites of the Offertory are accompanied by a chant
that is sung by the schola, just as with the Introit and the
Communion. In the first books of chant, the respond
of the piece is followed by several verses,11 the characteristics of which leave no doubt that these verses were
reserved to the most virtuoso soloists of the schola. With
the reduction and then disappearance of the offering
procession, these verses were not retained for very
long. From the eleventh century on, they gradually disappear from the chant books. At the end of the verses
a part of the respond of the Offertory would be sung
again. The tradition seems to vary somewhat as to the
exact place of this reprise.12 The Mass for the Dead,
however, has preserved the verse its Offertory up to the
present day.
the proper of the mass
Offertory of the 4th mode
The Prayer of Daniel. Note the concluding melisma.
the proper of the mass
Often compared to the antiphons of the Introit and
Communion, the Offertory, nevertheless, distinguishes
itself from them in several ways:
– It employs a more elaborate ornamentation than
that of the Introit or the Communion, with a frequent
tendency toward melismatic writing, especially near
the end of the piece.
– While the Introit and the Communion very often
demonstrate a close connection with the liturgical action or the sacred mystery, the text of the Offertory,
heavily worked, does not evoke the offering procession,
except in some very rare – and even then debatable –
cases.13 During the more important liturgical seasons
and for the principal feasts of the liturgical year, the Offertory harmonizes well with the other texts of the Mass
for that season or day. During the rest of the year, however, the Offertory, often drawn from the Psalms, regularly expresses one of the innumerable facets of Christian contemplation.
A few grand non-psalmodic frescos, which are common to several liturgies, stand out:14 Vir erat, Precatus est,
Oravi, Sanctificavit, etc.
Some Offertories are not even taken from the Scriptures: Domine Iesu Christe, Protege, etc.
– The Offertories are proportionally fewer in number than the Introits and Communions (about a third
fewer), which requires the repetition of some pieces on
various occasion throughout the liturgical year. This
situation leaves us inclined to judge in favor of a certain
antiquity of the Offertory.
the proper of the mass
Offertory of the 6th mode
Introit of the 6th mode
the proper of the mass
All these observations lead us to think that the Offertory is neither a “functional” type of chant (like the
Introit and the Communion), nor a type of chant that
constitutes the very essence of the sacred rites (the
chants after the readings). Rather, it would be a simple accompaniment to the ceremonies,15 a form of musical ambiance, a piece of religious vocal music, shaped
by the epoch in which it appeared: in a sense, a sumptuous “musical” offering. Some centuries later, the
organ will fill this role.
A “functional” chant, the Introit accompanies the
entrance procession of the celebrant with his ministers.
With this procession, it constitutes the first rite of the
The Introit is a chant that testifies to the importance
of the vocal element in the celebration: the unity of the
voices begins a unification of the faithful that will
deepen gradually during the course of the celebration.
Strictly speaking, it is a rite of entry: it admits us into
the sacred mystery. First of all, by its text, but also indissolubly by its melody, it gives the “tone” of the day
or of the feast. Consider, for example, Introits of a simple, quasi-descriptive style:
Puer natus est nobis: A child is born to us (Christmas)
Resurrexi: I have risen (Easter).
or Introits that suggest a disposition of the soul:
Venite, adoremus: Come, let us adore the Lord (5th
Sunday of Ordinary Time)
the proper of the mass
Introit for the feast of Saint John the Baptist
the proper of the mass
Ad te levavi: To you I lift up my soul (Advent).
Generally, the Introit is taken from the Psalms.
Sometimes, however, its text is furnished by another
book of the Scriptures. In this case, it often shows a
close relationship with the readings that will follow.16
There is a rapprochement between this type of Introit
and the antiphon ad prelegendum of the Gallican liturgy.
A few rare Introits are taken from one of the aprocryphal books, the 4th book of Esdras, which was highly
venerated in the first centuries.17
The composer of the Introit respects the sacred text,
without becoming a slave to its materiality. He cuts his
libretto from the scriptural text, knowing sometimes
how to set aside certain expressions that do not serve
his intentions, to bring together separate verses or to
introduce a word that helps to orient the sense. In extreme cases, we find some Introits the ambiance of
which is quite scriptural, but which themselves are not
actually scriptural. These are true ecclesiastical compositions.18
There are Introits in all the modes of the Octoechos,
which shows that the Introit constitutes a layer of composition later than that of the Gradual, and a fortiori of
the Tract.
The Introit is a “morsel of splendor,” 19 a piece in “ornate” style, that is connected to the genre of the antiphon. Its execution is confided to the schola, in alternation with verses of a Psalm, which are sung by a
soloist. The chant can be prolonged for as a long as the
duration of the procession of celebrant and his ministers.
the proper of the mass
Communion of the 3rd mode
Communion for Palm Sunday
Communion for Christmas night
the proper of the mass
Such a type of chant could only have appeared once
the solemn rite was well established in the great basilicas. An ancient tradition attributes the introduction of
the Introit to the Pope Celestine I, (d. 432), but this
tradition seems well subjected to caution.20
The function of this chant is to accompany the procession of those who go to Communion. In the first
centuries, most liturgies in the Mediterranean basin
used Psalm 33, especially verse 9: Gustate et videte quam
suavis est Dominus (“Taste and see how good is the
Lord”). At that time, then, the Communion chant did
not vary throughout the year; it was probably sung by a
soloist, with or without the response of the faithful, depending on locale.21 The Roman liturgy has retained a
recollection of the particular history of this verse in the
Communion for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Gustate et videte (p. 78).
When this chant is confided to the schola, the schola
chooses texts of a eucharistic nature or texts tied directly to the celebration of the day, from the Psalms22
and the New Testament, and the especially the Gospel
of St. John.
The Communion chant frequently has a rapport
with the Sacrament that is distributed. It also often
seeks a synthesis between the Liturgy of the Word and
the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The best example of this
is the Communion Pater, for Palm Sunday: “Father, if
the proper of the mass
this cup cannot pass from me unless I drink it, let your
will be done” (p. 78).
But the choices made by the composers of these
chants are also sometimes astonishing to our modern
mind set: the Communions for the weekdays of Lent
were simply chosen from Psalms 1 to 26 - in numerical
These compositions are in a semi-florid style, similar
to that of the Introit. The execution of this final chant
of the Proper ultimately comes to the schola, singing in
alternation with the Psalm sung by a soloist. When the
Communion is not taken from a Psalm, Psalm 33 can al-
Communion of the 1st mode
ways be used for the verses. We also note that when the
Communion is not taken from a Psalm, the old antiphonaries tend to use the same Psalm as that of the Introit, most likely out of concern for liturgical unity.
The Communion rites include another song, more
specifically tied to the fraction, the Agnus Dei, which belongs to the chants of the Ordinary (p. 98-101).
the proper of the mass
“Praise the Lord” is the literal translation of this Hebrew word, which is common to the heritage of both
Christian and Jewish liturgies.
In the first manuscripts of Gregorian chant, the Alleluia appeared as a chant between the readings. In the
Mass – because it also exists in the Office23 – it is a chant
originally reserved for Easter day. From there its use
spread to the paschal season, then to Sundays of the
year, that is, weekly celebrations of the Resurrection;
but its use never spread to Lent, where the more ancient Tract subsisted.
In its definitive form, it constitutes the latest of the
chants of the Proper. The composition of the Roman
Alleluias was probably not finished when the Roman
liturgy was brought to Gaul, in the middle of the eighth
century. Its origins are extremely complex. However,
analysis will distinguish three elements in its composition.
– The word “alleluia” itself, is often a somewhat ornamented reprise of a syllabic form of the same word
from the Office.
– Then comes the jubilus, a vocalise on the divine
name divine Yah, which is an abbreviation of a holy and
unpronouncable tetragram. This manner of singing
and of pouring out one’s inner life by means of a vocalise that transcends the limits of syllables and, therefore, of thoughts, is probably as old as humanity. Such
a chant is well suited as a preparatory acclamation to
the proper of the mass
Alleluia of the 2nd mode
Alleluia for Easter Sunday
the proper of the mass
the reading of the Gospel, but this reveals nothing of its
original function in the liturgy; thus, the Hispanic
liturgy admits this chant as an acclamation after the
– Finally, the verse, drawn from the Psalms or other
book of Scripture (with a few exceptions). This verse,
in general unique, constitutes an elongation of the
primitive chant of the Alleluia. Several old manuscripts
have preserved Alleluias without verses.24 It is by means
of this scriptural verse, that the Alleluia gradually
slipped into the category of chants between readings.
The end of the verse often repeats the melody of the
jubilus. Sometimes, the repeat of the chant of the Alleluia after the verse was given yet a new, more developed jubilus: sequentia, sequela or longissima melodia.25
The Gregorian repertoire has three great Alleluia
“types,” those of the 2nd, 4th and 8th modes,26 as well as a
large number of original melodies.
The late character of the chant of the Alleluia – in
the form that has come to us – manifests itself in several
– Generally, the repertoire of Alleluias is gathered together at the ends of the oldest manuscripts. The cantor, then, would choose the chant that he wanted for
each Sunday. The tradition had not yet had time be become fixed.
– The melodies of the Alleluias often do not conform
to the “canons” of Gregorian writing. They are subjected to regional variations, something that never happens with the other pieces of the Proper.
the proper of the mass
– The musical creativity in the Alleluias is more
evolved than that in the other pieces.27 The concept of
musical themes is already very present, and it foreshadows new musical forms in which repetition, imitation,
and opposition and contrasting of melodic motives will
become fully-fledged compositional processes.
1. “The old practices maintain themselves with more tenacity in
the most sacred times of the liturgical year.” A. BAUMSTARK, op. cit.
infra, p. 29.
2. D. FERRETTI, op. cit. supra, p. 135 and 139.
3. Msgr MONETA-CAGLIO, op. cit. supra, c. I.
4. Ecce quam bonum (G.T. 351), Bonum est confiteri (G.T. 327).
5. A summo (G.T. 27), Haec dies (G.T. 196), Iuravit (G.T. 486).
6. Universi (G.T. 16), Timebunt gentes (G.T. 265).
7. Audi filia (G.T. 406), Viderunt omnes (G.T. 48).
8. Tollite hostias (G.T. 272).
9. Bernard RIBAY, “Les graduels en IIA”, E.G. XXII (Solesmes,
1988) p. 43-107; and D. FERRETTI, op. cit. supra, p. 162-174.
10. “At the altar, let one sing chants drawn from the Book of
Psalms, either before the offering or when what has been offered
is distributed to the people” (Retractations, II, 11). This sentence
is cited by all the commentators since the seventeenth century, but
the information is meager, since it refers to a book by Saint Augustine that is lost today. See Joseph DYER, “Augustine and the
‘hymni ante oblationem’ The Earliest Offertory Chants?” in Revue
des Études Augustiniennes XXVII 1-2 (Paris, 1981), p. 85-99; and on
the works of St. Augustine, Œuvres de Saint Augustin, traduction et
notes de Gustave BARDY, Bibilothèque Augustinienne (Paris
1950), t. XII, p. 469 and 579, note 45.
11. From one to four, depending on the pieces, their execution
perhaps being tied to the length of the procession (Joseph-André
the proper of the mass
JUNGMANN, Missarum sollemnia, Aubier, Paris, 1952, t. III, p. 302
n. 18). The aesthetic and the ornamentation also seem varied
from one verse to another, even within the same Offertory.
12. Such a form of the response would connect the Offertory to
responsorial psalmody.
13. Reges Tharsis (G.T. 58), Sicut in holocausto (G.T. 299), Dominate Deus (G.T. 401).
14. Perhaps they are of Gallican origin. Cf. Kenneth LEVY,
“Toledo, Rome and the legacy of Gaul,” Early Music History 4,
Cambridge, 1984, p. 49-99.
15. Is this not what is understood in the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican II? When the offertory is not sung, it is simply omitted [General Instruction of the Roman Missal (1969) no. 50].
This would never happen for the entrance chant.
16. For example: Puer (G.T. 47); Viri Galilaei (G.T. 235).
17. Requiem (G.T. 669), Accipite iucunditatem (G.T. 243).
18. Ecce advenit (G.T. 56); In excelso throno (G.T. 257).
19. Joseph-André JUNGMANN, op. cit. supra, t. II, p. 73.
20. DUCHESNE, Liber pontificalis, t. I, p. 230; Peter JEFFERY, “The
Introduction of Psalmody into the Roman Mass by Pope Celestin I
(422-432): Reinterpreting a Passage in the Liber Pontificalis,”
Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft 26 (1984), p. 147-165.
21. See the table for the different liturgies in H. LECLERC,
D.A.C.L., t. III, col. 2428-2433, article “Communion.”
22. Of 130 old Communions, only 64 are taken from the Psalms,
proportionally less than for the other genres.
23. D. Jean CLAIRE, “Aux origines de l’Alléluia,” Essays in honor
of Edith Gerson - Kiwi, Orbis musicae IX (Tel-Aviv, 1986), p. 17.
24. Chartres 47 (tenth century), notably: P.M. t. XI, p. 116-118.
25. Cf. “L’Alléluia Redemptionem et les longissimae melodiae,” E.G.
XXIV (1992), p. 203.
26. Published in summary tables in E.G. XXI (1986).
27. D. FERRETTI, op. cit. supra, p. 182-190.
the proper of the mass
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the other chants
The musical tradition of the universal
Church is a treasure of inestimable value.
Vatican II
In the liturgical repertoire of the medieval West
there are, yet, additional chants, which are not classified in the forms studied in the two previous chapters.
These are principally the chants of the Ordinary of the
Mass and of the hymns.
The celebration of the Mass contains chants whose
texts are fixed, regardless of the day or the feast. They
constitute what are called the chants of the Ordinary.
They are always designated by their first words. They
are the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei,
to which it is necessary to add the Credo. Together,
these chants of the Ordinary are sometimes called the
Kyriale, a name taken from the first of them.
In the modern books these chants have been
grouped in order to form “Masses”, that is, collections
each of which contains a Kyrie, a Gloria, a Sanctus and an
the other chants
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the other chants
Agnus Dei. Thus, there is a “Mass I” for the Easter season, a “Mass IV” for feasts of the apostles, a “Mass XI”
for Sundays in Ordinary time, etc. However, we should
not be deceived by these groupings.1 They date only
from the Gregorian restoration of the nineteenth century, and only rarely do they reflect historic truth. In
reality, the Kyriale constitutes a composite repertoire,
of regional origin. The chants for the Ordinary of the
Mass were composed in every region, and at the different times.2 The number of these compositions is much
greater than those passed down to us in the Vatican edition.3 Nonetheless, the choices made for the Vatican
edition are excellent.
On the whole, these chants are popular in style.
There are some, very simple in nature, that may be very
ancient. Unfortunately, the tradition for the chants of
the Ordinary is not as reliable as it is for the chants of
the Proper, and, thus, we encounter numerous local
In several cases the influence of the schola is felt,
which resulted in pieces in a more highly elaborated
The Kyrie.
Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) is a Greek formula
by which the faithful “acclaim their Lord and implore
his mercy.”4 This chant, situated today in the beginning of the Mass as a penitential ritual, prepares the
faithful for the celebration. Originally, it was an expression of praise and an invocation that found itself in
other places in the liturgy.5
the other chants
In the old manuscripts the text was written in an undivided stream quirieleison, and it forms a unique word.
The music respected this philological element by developing sometimes a rather long melisma on the “e,”
thereby assuring the junction of the two words Kyrie
and eleison.
In the Vatican edition, the Kyrie chant is preceded by
some Latin words: Lux et origo, Cum jubilo, Orbis factor,
etc. These are the first words of the trope that usually
accompanied the Kyrie. The Kyrie and its trope appear
together in the primitive manuscript tradition. The
liturgical reform following the Vatican Council II revives, to a certain extent, this ancient custom, because
it permits, as an option, the singing of a trope to introduce the Kyrie.
When we study the melodic and modal construction
of the Kyrie repertoire, we see that a large number of
the pieces flow out of a formula from the archaic mode
of E.
Indeed, the melodic theme c - d - e - e (or its transpositions) constitutes the architecture of three ancient
Kyrie’s: XV, XVI and XVIII. It is also an important
structural element in Kyrie III, IX and X (Christe), XI,
and I ad libitum. This theme also opens the composition of Kyrie II, V, VI, XII, VI ad libitum and the Kyrie for
the Dead. In Kyrie I and XVII this initial theme is somewhat hidden by a later ascent of b to c (or of e to f).
It is also the primitive theme of the chant for the
Roman litany. In certain cases it has subsisted purely in
the archaic modality (Kyrie XVIII). In others it is easily
recognizable behind an evolution of the final of the
the other chants
composition lower: a major third (Kyrie for the Dead),
a fifth (Kyrie II, XI and XVI). The laws of modal evolution seem to apply here well in an analogous manner
(See p. 45). We see once again how the composition
of Western sacred music evolves in an organic way,
while remaining faithful to archaic themes and
The Gloria
This non-scriptural hymn,6 in prose, arises from the
primitive Christian hymnody. The Latin liturgy preserved only a few relics of this genre, which has always
retained a place of honor in the Oriental liturgies.
The Gloria, attested in Greek and Syrian sources of
the fourth century, may go back to a Greek origin in
the second century.7 The Latin text first appears in the
West in the seventh century and stabilizes by the ninth
century. This hymn, which has been called the “Great
Doxology,” 8 and which appears in the Milanese liturgy
in a longer version, Laus angelorum magna,9 was not
originally a part of the Mass, but a hymn of thanksgiving and of jubilation concluding the Office of Matins.
In the Roman liturgy the Gloria was admitted at first
only for the Mass of the Christmas night, due to the appropriateness of its text. Soon extended to the major
feasts of the year, it remained for a time reserved to the
bishop.10 The Gloria has now become a chant of all the
assembly, for Sundays (except in Advent and in Lent)
and feast days.
After the intonation, the text is composed of two
parts: an expression of praise to the Father and one to
the Son. The terminating mention of the Holy Spirit
the other chants
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Gloria IX, for feasts of the Virgin
gives to the whole a Trinitarian character that does not
seem to be early: it was most likely added after quarrels
related to the development of the dogma of the Trinity.
The Vatican edition gives us nineteen different
melodies for this hymn. Two among these distinguish
themselves by a simplicity that reveals their archaic
the other chants
The “Ambrosian” Gloria (p. 35) has preserved the
style of the primitive cantillation, with a recitation on a
(mother-mode of D), cadences on the lower degree,
and a jubilus on finals of words, at the next to last logical division of the text.11 The melodic nature of the
final amen separates it from the rest of the composition: it is a late addition.
Gloria XV has also kept the structure of a cantillation
on a (mother-mode of D), in the manner of a very simple psalmodic schema (intonation - tenor - mediant final), adjusted when the text is too short. The modal
evolution is here more advanced (cadences descending a fourth), and the final amen is again adventitious.
Other melodies of the Gloria are connected to an
analogous aesthetic, although less rigorously so.
The mother-mode of D is very visible and hardly
evolved in Gloria XI, II ad libitum, and III ad libitum
(leaps of a four and a fifth). In Gloria VI there is an
evolution toward the 8th mode. This evolution toward
the 8th mode is completed in Gloria III (by means of an
ascent of the accents and tenors), as is the evolution toward the 7th mode in Gloria IX (by means of a descent
of the finals).12
Another archaism met in the Gloria’s composition is
that of litany-like passages of the text that have frequently preserved the characteristic melody of the
litany signaled in the Kyrie compositions. This is especially visible in Gloria XIII, where the theme of the
Roman litany appears in the archaic mode of E.
the other chants
@@Dómi#[email protected]@[email protected], Agnus @De- i, @Fí[email protected]@[email protected]@Patris.
A similar theme, in D and probably of Gallican origin, appears in Gloria XI.
The Credo
This is the Creed of Nicea-Constantinople, that is,
the profession of the Christian faith, specified during
the two great Trinitarian councils of Nicea (325) and
of Constantinople (381), and promulgated officially
on occasion of the Christological Council of Chalcedon (451).
The chant of the Creed would have been introduced
into the liturgies of the Orient at the end of fifth century,13 in a baptismal context and in variable places in
the liturgy depending on the locale.
In the West the Creed enters the Hispanic liturgy at
the end of sixth century and the Gallican liturgies during eighth and ninth centuries, but only for Sundays
and major feasts.14 However, it is not admitted to the
Roman Mass until 1014. Arriving late among the
chants of the Ordinary, it has, thus, a particular status.
Of the six melodies transmitted to us in the Vatican
edition, none departs from a simple syllabic style. Credo I
represents the original form of this chant.15 Its musical
shape connects the Creed more closely to a few prose
hymns preserved in the liturgy (notably the Te Deum and
the Gloria). The structures of the cantillation are here
again very visible. As in the Psalm tone called peregrinus,
the other chants
ªAnctus,@ * Sanctus,
Sanctus ∞Dómi#nus [email protected] Sá-
∞@[email protected] @Ple#ni @sunt @cæ#li @[email protected]@terra∞ gló-ri- @[email protected]@tu- a. @@Ho#sánna
ª@in excélsis. Bene-díctus qui @ve#nit in nómi#[email protected]@Dómi-ni.
∞Ho#sánna @in excél#sis.
Sanctus XVIII (weekdays in Advent and Lent)
* @Sanctus,
@Sanctus Dómi#nus @De-us
ºSá-ba- @@oth. @[email protected] sunt @@cæ- @li @@et @@ter#ra∞ @gló-
º@@tu- @a. @Ho#sánna
ri- @a
in ex-cél-sis. @@Be#ne-díctus qui @@ve-nit
ª[email protected] @nó- mi#ne @@@Dó#mi-ni. @Ho-
Sanctus I (Easter season)
in @@@excél- @sis.
the other chants
two tenors alternate: a and g. All the phrases end on g.
The intermediate half-cadences on e prepare for the
concluding, adventitious amen, summing up the piece.
The adaptation of the melody to the text is perfect.16
The five other melodies are reprises of the first (II,
V) or of later works (III, IV, VI) that depart from the
laws of authentic composition.17
The Sanctus
At the beginning of the eucharistic prayer, the Sanctus chant is introduced by the long recititative of the
Preface. This is “the hymn of the Seraphim,” heard in
the temple of Jerusalem, by the prophet Isaiah, at the
time of the first vision of his ministry (Is. 6: 3). It invites
the Church on earth to join herself to the celestial
hymns and thereby manifest the unity of the liturgies
on earth and in heaven. This solemn affirmation of the
holiness and the transcendence of the God of the universe is completed by an acclamation to the Christ the
King, taken from the Gospel (Mt. 21: 9) and citing the
Easter Psalm (Ps. 117: 26).
Among the melodies in the Vatican edition, that of
Sanctus XVIII, which is reserved to the weekdays of Advent and of Lent and to the Masses for the Dead, distinguishes itself by its simplicity. It links perfectly the
Preface that has just finished with the Canon that follows. Its evolution and its ornamentation are halfway
between these two recitatives.18 It is probably the oldest
version of the Sanctus that has come down to us.
The fact that this version appears late in the manuscripts does not in any way invalidate this assertion: the
simplest pieces, which are sung every day, are the last to
the other chants
be subjected to notation. The chant of the Sanctus,
sung by both the priest and the people, is attested since
the end of the fourth century, at least with regard to the
first part. The second part (Benedictus...) would probably have been added in the Roman Mass during the seventh century.19
The other melodies developed progressively, especially from the eleventh century on. They all represent
a compositional palette, on which nearly all the modes
are represented.20 If certain melodies are quasi-syllabic
(XIII), others are much more ornate (II, VII, XI).
With its repetitions the text was suited to reprises and
imitations. Composers didn’t miss this invitation (II,
III, V...); they even amplified the process with transpositions (XIV).
The Agnus Dei
Functionally, it is the chant that accompanies with
the Fraction of Bread that has just been consecrated,
the Fraction before the distribution of Communion to
the faithful. The origin of this chant is often assigned
to Syria and its introduction into the Roman Mass to
Pope Sergius I, at the end of the seventh century. The
Oriental influence is certainly incontestable: the fraction placed in relation to the Savior’s sufferings, and
the designation of the eucharistic species as the
“Lamb.” Now we know that the second half of the seventh century is marked by a massive immigration into
Italy and to Rome by Christians escaping persecutions
in the East.21 However, the chant of the Agnus was not
completely unknown in Rome: we find traces of it, with
the archaic melodies, in the litany-like passages of the
Gloria (p. 94-95).
the other chants
@ @ -gnus De- @@i, @* qui @@tol- @lis @peccá- @@ta @mundi,
ºmi- se- @ré- re no-bis. @@Agnus @De- @i, *@@@qui @tol#[email protected]@peccá-ta
∞@@mun#di,@@ [email protected]é#@re no#bis.
@Agnus De-
no-bis pa-cem.
@ta @mundi,@@ do#na
i, * @qui tol- lis
Agnus Dei XII
The Milanese liturgy has preserved a Proper chant,
variable during the liturgical year, with the evocative
name, the confractorium. An analogous chant of the old
Gallican liturgy in Lyons has also been preserved (p.
86), and there is the collection of antiphons ad confractionem panis from the Hispanic liturgy.22
The singing of the Agnus Dei chant comes back to the
congregation, who makes profitable use of the time between the Consecration and the Communion “to give
homage and humble supplication to the One made
present under the species of the bread.” 23
The melody of Agnus Dei XVIII, with its noble simplicity, is certainly connected to the primitive litany.
The invocations were repeated for as long a time as the
Fraction rite lasted. After the development of the use
A ”««5«««5«««««N««6««»+»««6«««6««6««««5««»6««4««»««5«««6»«+«»5««6«»–
”««7««5««»«H«««5«««≠««»«5«««»5««««»N««6«««+«««6««««6««6««««5««»6««4««««»5» «»—
ª@-gnus @De- @i,@* @qui tol#lis peccá-ta @mundi,@@@mi-se-
ºré-re @no-bis.
Agnus De- i, *@@@qui @@tol#lis @peccá-ta @mun#
”««6««»+««5««6««7««5««««H«««5«««≠«««5««»«5«««««N«««6«««»+» «»6«««6««6«»««5«»»—
ºdi, @@mi-se#ré-re no-bis. @ @Agnus @De- i, * @@qui @tol#lis @pec#
ºcá[email protected] mundi,@@ @do#na nobis pa-cem.
Agnus Dei XVIII
of small hosts and the reduction of the reception of
Communion, the chant was maintained, but with the
number of invocations fixed at three (tenth century)
and the conclusion dona nobis pacem gradually adopted
(tenth to eleventh century).
The literary repetition of the text was the one most
often followed by composers. In the collection of the
twenty Agnus Dei chants in the Vatican edition, nine
melodies have the form A - A - A, nine have the form A
- B - A;24 only two do not follow one of these schemas:
Agnus Dei VII (A - A - B) and Agnus Dei XI (A - B - C).
However, these two melodies go back only to the fifteenth and fourteenth centuries, respectively.
We note that in several Agnus Dei chants, the middle
invocation received a very simple melody, that of a
Psalm tone (notably XII and XVI). This is probably a
vestige of the primitive chant of the litany.
the other chants
The Agnus Dei is the last chant to come into the Ordinary. Inspiring numerous musical compositions,
from the tenth to the seventeenth centuries,25 it has
been treated in a particularly sumptuous and solemn
fashion. Three melodies retained in the Vatican edition (III, V and VI) distinguish themselves as truly
major works in the history of music.26
The hymn tradition is composed of two different
branches: one of prose hymns and one of versified
Prose hymns have always enjoyed considerable success in the Orient, where the melodic tradition has continued uninterrupted since St. Ephrem of Syria.
The West has preserved only three pieces of this
type: the Gloria in excelsis (p. 91), the Te Deum and the
Te decet laus. On the other hand, the versified hymns
have found a place of choice, especially in the Office.
The Te Deum
The Te Deum is a long hymn of praise, in prose, traditionally situated near the end of the nocturnal
liturgy. But its use spread to solemn occasions of
Its origin has been discussed for a century. A legend
contended for a long time that the Te Deum was composed by Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, on the
day of Augustine’s baptism (in Milan in 386). Actually,
an analysis of the text and music shows it is a composite
the other chants
work, elaborated progressively by successive additions.
Today, specialists assign the final version of this hymn
to Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana (present Mediterranean Romania), at the end of the fourth century or
in the beginning of the fifth.
The first part (up to Paraclitum Spiritum) is very similar to a eucharistic anaphora: it is a Trinitarian acclamation of praise addressed to the Father. It even contains the three-fold Sanctus. The melody is visibly
constructed on the note a (= mother-mode of D), with
a slight rise of the tenor to b, of the accents to c, and a
descent of the punctuations to g. It is very close to an
archaic modality.
The second part (from Tu rex gloriae to sanguine redemisti) is an expression of praise to Christ the Redeemer. The literary change is accompanied by a musical modification. The note remains a, accentuated
simply to the degree above (b), and with punctuations
on the fourth below (e). The verse Æterna fac... serves
as the conclusion of this part.
The third part (Salvum fac... to the end)27 marks a
new literary and musical change. It is a series of supplications, composed essentially of Psalm verses. The
melody uses principally the mother-mode of E, recognizable in the mother-cell c-d-E with recitative developments on g; it returns at times to the melody of the second part. It is the least homogeneous section of the
work and probably the last to enter the composition.
the other chants
T ”««3«««N««6«««»H»««»»?«»«6«««=««3«««5««»6««6««««»5««?««è»§(««5«»«≠«»*
”«»5««?«««7««H«««5««≠«»,«««8««7««6««««»6»««6««?««6«»=«6«»«5»«» ?»««7»«H«««5«»≠»*
”««,«»«»7««»»8««»7»«««»6««»?«»«6«»«» =»««»3»««»N«««6««6««6««»5»«««»?»«»7»«»H««»5««»≠«*
”««5»?««6«««»+««»6««««»6««»6»««««5««?««»è»§(««5«««»»≠««»«,««7««8««»»7««««»6««»6» —
@ @E De-um laudámus, *@@@te Dóminum confi-té- @mur.
@Te ætérnum @Patrem, omnis @terra @vene-rá- @tur. @ @Ti-bi @om#
∞@@[email protected] á[email protected]@li,
@[email protected]@cæ-li @et @u#ni#vérsæ pot#e#stá- tes, @ti-bi
@ché-ru#[email protected]@[email protected]@sé[email protected]
incessá#[email protected] vo#ce @proclá- mant:
«Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dómi#nus [email protected]@@Sá#ba- oth. @ Ple-
∞@ni sunt cæ#li @et @terra @@ma-iestá-tis gló[email protected]æ @@tu- æ.»@@@@@Te glo-
º[email protected]@ó#sus
@aposto#ló#rum @cho- @rus,
te prophe#tá#rum @laudá-
@@@bi-lis núme-rus,@@@te mártyrum candidá#tus laudat exérci- tus.
∞@Te @per orbem ter#rá-rum @ sancta @confi-té-tur @Ecclé#si- a,
@imménsæ ma#@iestá- @tis;
@vene#rándum @tu-um
@et @ú#ni#[email protected]@Fí[email protected] @um; @@Sanctum quoque @@Pa#rácli-
”««?«««««7««H«««5«««≠«»«N««»6««««H«««6««?«««««5»5««3««»≠««3««»» N««6««=«»»6»«—
”««6««H«««6«««»?»««5««5««3««»»≠««»»3««»»5» «»6««6««6«««6««««»6»««6««»»5««6»««»»7«»—
”«»H««»«6«»«=««3««««»5»««6««6««6««H«««6««?«»«5««5««3««»»≠»««3««»» 5««6«»«6»««»6«*
”««7««6««6««=«»H«««6«»«»?««»5»5««3«««≠««»3«»«5««»6»«««»» 6««6««»6»«+««6««6«««6«»*
”««5««6«««7«»«H«««6«»» =«»«3««««»5««6««6««6»«»«7««»«6»«»H»««««6««?««5»5««3««»≠«»¥
”««»1««»C«»«»«»3«»««3««3««3«»««»3««4«««««»«2«»«4«»"»é&««=«»1««««C««3««3««««»3«»» ∑
ºtum Spí-ri- tum. Tu rex gló[email protected]@æ, Chri- ste. @@Tu @Pa#tris @sem#
º[email protected]érnus @es @Fí[email protected]@us. @ @Tu, @ad li#be#rándum susceptú#rus hó-
@[email protected],@@non horru- í#sti @Vír#gi-nis @ú-te#rum. @Tu, de#vícto mor#
º∞tis acú[email protected] @@o,
a#pe#ru- í#sti credénti#bus regna @cæló- rum.
∞@Tu ad @déxteram [email protected] @sedes,
in @gló[email protected]@ri- @a [email protected]@tris.
@es#se @ventú[email protected]@rus. @Te @@ergo, qu∆sumus, tu-is @fá-
@mu-lis súbve-ni, @@@quos pre-ti- ó-so @sángui#ne @redemí- sti.
∞Æ-térna @@fac
@@cum @[email protected]@tu- is @in gló#ri- @a @nume-rá- ri.
¶ Salvum [email protected]@pópu#lum tu-um, @Dómi#ne,
º@[email protected]@tá-ti @@tu- @æ.
@Et re-ge @[email protected],
@@et béne-dic @@he-
@@@@et extólle @@il#los
∞@usque in æté[email protected]@num. [email protected]íngu#[email protected] @@@@be#ne-dí-cimus te;
the other chants
The Te decet laus
The Te decet laus is a brief prose hymn that acts as a
conclusion to the monastic vigils for Sundays and
feasts. Saint Benedict borrowed it from the Orient: indeed, it is the Latin translation of the hymn that concludes the nocturnal psalmody in the Byzantine
The present books have two melodies29 for the Te
decet laus. The authentic melody is that given for the
Easter season. The other melody is a late adaptation by
the Maurists (seventeenth century).
@E de-cet laus,
* @[email protected]@de#cet hymnus, @@ti-bi @gló-ri-
@a @@De- o @Pa#tri @@et @Fí-li- @o, cum Sancto @Spí[email protected]@tu,
@[email protected] @sæcu#ló- @rum. @ A-
in @@s∆-
We have been reminded of the importance of hymns
in the Western liturgy by the liturgical reform that followed Vatican Council II. Henceforth, all the Offices
may begin with the Hymn, whereas in antiquity, the
Hymn had a variable place within the different Offices.
the other chants
This change is as if to say, as for the Introit of the Mass,
it is the Hymn that “gives the tone” and helps the faithful to enter into the liturgical theme or the sacred mystery.30 This specific character of hymns is accentuated
by their popular side. Often, they are fairly simple, particularly singing compositions. Too, the repetition of a
same melody for all the strophes facilitates the memorization of music, and through it, the memorization of
the text. Since antiquity, they have played a considerable role in the teaching of orthodox doctrine, as well
as of heresies.…
Saint Ambrose
Saint Ambrose composed some hymns, some of
which have come down to us.31 The future Pope Celestine I, while staying in Milan, even recounted how he
had seen Ambrose singing the Veni Redemptor gentium to
his faithful.32 These hymns were probably composed in
the context of struggles against Christological heresies.
The simplicity of their meter rendered them an immediate success.
Probably because their texts are not scriptural,
hymns entered the official Roman liturgy late (thirteenth century). But the monastic Rules, such as those
of Saint Benedict or Saint Caesarius of Arles, welcomed
them very early.
The Carolingian Renaissance
The Carolingian era marks a return to the forms of
Greco-Latin antiquity. Numerous hymns, then, are
composed in the classic meters of the works of Virgil
and Horatio. Curiously, it is over the strophes of the
Odes or in the Aeneid that the first neumatic notations
the other chants
appear.33 This compositional development occurs especially in monasteries, where the communities had used
hymns in the Office from the sixth century. But some
secular authors also left their names on hymnic compositions. This leads us to think that, little by little, the
use of hymns spread into the secular churches, without
waiting for their official adoption by the Roman liturgy.
The hymnary, for the most part constituted in the Carolingian era, has continued, however, to develop up to
our own time.34
The composition of hymns
The meter, that is, the organization of the text in long
and short syllables and the obligatory placement of certain caesuras, as well as the regular return of an identical melody for the different texts, make hymns a unique
genre within Western sacred music. They obey specific
laws, similar to those of classic versification; they disregard the free-rhythm declamation, which is fundamentally characteristic of Gregorian composition.
The relative indifference of the melody to the text
creates a difficulty in judging the antiquity of these
pieces, at least on the musical level. It would be necessary that an ancient hymn, that is, that hymn and only
that hymn, received the same melody always and everywhere, for us to consider its melody to be “authentic”
(conforming to the original). But did this case ever
occur? Furthermore, does the notion of an original
melody even make sense for these compositions, some
of which may come from popular melodies? In any
case, the musical notation appears only in the tenth
century, and it does not permit firm conclusions.35
A ”««5««6««5««6««7«««8««6««7«»+«»7««7»»«««»8««6««5««»»6»««8»»«7:»!è«»=» —
”««6«««7»«««8««»9««»7»«««»»8»««8««7««+««6««»7«««»»8««»7««»6»«««7««6««5««««≠«««»»«» »
U#ró#ra lu-cis rú[email protected], @cælum re#súl#tat láudibus,
mundus exsúl#tans iú#bi-lat,@ @@gemens @inférnus ú-lu-lat,
Hymn for Easter (iambic, very ancient)
”««D«»4»f««»±«2««»2««2««~««6«««««6««5««§»(’»n»(’"é««=«»3«»«5»««»5««565»§»(’"é«»» »∑
@X- súl#tet cælum láudi#bus,
@@Aposto#@ló#rum gló[email protected]
@re-súl#tet terra gáudi-
sacra @@canunt
Hymn for the Apostles (iambic, Carolingian)
”««H«««N«««»4««N««»5«««»»B««»»(»’"«»2««»±««Û««F«««S««««2»2««1««»+««F«««B««F««»» ‚
@@ - @@@ste @confés#sor @@@Dómi#ni @sacrá-tus, @fe- sta @plebs
[email protected] @cé-lebrat @per @orbem, @hó#di- @@e @@læ[email protected][email protected]@it
@secré[email protected] @@scán- de- re @cæ-li.
Hymn for Saint Martin (Sapphic)
the other chants
Among the meters possible, two enjoyed a particular
The iambic diameter
The Ambrosian hymns normally have eight strophes
of four lines each. Each line is composed of eight syllables, alternately short and long. This is called iambic
diameter. When it is indeed a quantitative measure
(length and brevity) that differentiates syllables, we
speak of metric hymns. However, in many cases the
quantity was disregarded, and replaced with a regular
return of accentuated syllables. These are what we call
rhythmic hymns.
The Sapphic strophe
This meter was developed especially during the time
of the Carolingian Renaissance, because it is a classic
meter in Horatio. The strophe has three lines of eleven
syllables each, with a caesura at fifth syllable; it concludes with a line of five syllables (the adonic line).
Sometimes bringing together words that would be kept
far away from each other in prose, this last line sounds
like a small summary of the strophe. In these hymns,
the syllabic quantity naturally plays a decisive role; the
melody often distinguished the long syllables; but here
also, the genre evolved, and certain Sapphic strophes
eventually received melodies that were independent
from the syllabic quantity. This, then, assimilates them
into the compositions in free rhythm.
the other chants
1. Dom Dominique CATTA, “Aux origines du Kyriale,” R.G. 34
(1955), p. 175.
2. Michel HUGLO, “Origine et diffusion des Kyrie,” R.G. 37
(1958), p. 85.
3. Some repertoires of these melodies exist. Cf. Mgr. Ferdinand
HABERL, Le Kyriale Romanum. Aspects liturgiques et musicaux, Pontificio Istituto di Musica Sacra, Rome, 1981.
4. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 30.
5. At the conclusion of the Offices, in the Rule of Saint Benedict.
6. Except the first words, taken from the Gospel of Christmas
(Lk 2: 14).
7. Apostolic Constitutions VII, 47. Mgr MONETA-CAGLIO, op. cit.
supra, c. VIII.
8. To distinguish it from the “small doxology” (Gloria Patri et
Filio et Spiritui Sancto...), added to the ends of Psalms and of Responsories as a reminder to reverence the Holy Trinity.
9. A complete transcription is given in P.M., t. VI, p. 316, and in
Mgr. Moneta-Caglio, op. cit., p. 165.
10. L. DUCHESNE, Origines du culte chrétien (cinquième éd., Paris,
1920), p. 176.
11. This disposition remains visible at least in the first strophe,
the original core of the composition.
12. Here again, we apply laws of the modal evolution analogously (p. 45).
13. Irénée-Henri DALMAIS, Liturgies d’Orient, Cerf, Paris, 1980, p.
14. R. CABIÉ, “L’Eucharistie,” in A.G. MARTIMORT, L’Église en
Prière (Desclée, Paris, 1983), t. II, p. 149 et 162.
the other chants
15. Michel HUGLO, “Origine de la mélodie du Credo ‘authentique’ de la Vaticane,” R.G. 30 (1951), p. 68-78
16. See the essay dom MOCQUEREAU, “Le chant authentique du
Credo,” Monographie grégorienne III, Desclée, 1922.
17. Ferdinand HABERL, Le Kyriale Romanum, op. cit., p. 177-189.
18. D. Jean CLAIRE, “L’Évolution modale dans les récitatifs
liturgiques,” R.G. 1963, p. 134-136 and plates Gc and Hc.
19. Joseph-André JUNGMANN, op. cit. supra, t. III, p. 45 ns. 41.
20. If the 7th mode is materially absent from the rubrics of the
Vatican edition, more than a few chants evoke its aesthetic (notably Sanctus I and VII).
21. Joseph-André JUNGMANN, op. cit., t. III, p. 262-263 and notes.
22. “Antifonario vizigótico mozárabe de la Catedral de León”
(Monumenta Hispaniae sacra, serie liturgica, vol. VI, t. 2, Madrid,
1953), unfortunately the melody is indecipherable.
23. Joseph-André JUNGMANN, op. cit. supra, t. III, p. 263.
24. In three cases the shape is actually, A - A’ - A, because of a
minor variation in the second invocation.
25. The melody of the Agnus Dei II ad libitum was composed by
Dom Pothier on a medieval theme.
26. Dom Jean Claire, “Trois mélodies d'Agnus Dei,” R.G. 40
(1962), p. 6-14.
27. The singing of it is optional today.
28. This Greek hymn is perhaps inspired by a similar piece in
the synagogal liturgy of the Sabbath morning. Cf. A. BAUMSTARK,
Liturgie comparée (Chèvetogne 1939), p. 94.
29. There are some others. Michel HUGLO, “Les diverses
mélodies du ‘Te decet laus’ A propos du vieux-romain,” Jahrbuch
für Liturgy und Hymnologie 12 (1967), p. 11-116.
30. General Instruction on the Liturgy of Hours (1971), no. 173.
31. Pietro BORELLA, Il rito ambrosiano, Morcelliana, 1964, p. 56;
Mr.-H. JULLIEN, “La tradition manuscrite des quatorze hymnes attribuées à saint Ambroise jusqu'à la fin du XIe siècle,” unpublished.
the other chants
32. Peter JEFFERY, art. cit. supra, p. 162.
33. Denis ESCUDIER, “Des notations musicales dans les manuscrits non liturgiques antérieurs au XIIe siècle,” Bibliothèque de l'École des chartes, t. CXXIX, 1971, p. 27-48. Yves-François RIOU, “Codicologie and notation neumatique,” Cahiers de civilisation
médiévale XXXIII, 1990, p. 255-280, and 381-396; “Chronologie et
provenance des manuscrits classiques latins neumés,” Revue d'histoire des textes, t. XI, 1991, p. 77-113.
34. Pierre-Marie GY, “Le trésor des hymnes,” La MaisonDieu 173, 1988, p. 19-40.
35. Jacques PERRET, “Aux origines de l'hymnodie latine, l'apport
de la civilisation romaine,” La Maison-Dieu 173, 1988, p. 51.
the manuscripts
Far from being the conclusion of harmonious science, notation is, indeed, not even
a part of it.
By the end the eighth century, the composition of
the Gregorian repertoire is finished. This corpus of
chants for the liturgical year is born in the context of an
oral tradition. However, as we have already mentioned
(p. 8), it is also the result of a rupture in preexisting
oral traditions. Indeed, the Carolingian rulers imposed the use of the Gregorian chant throughout their
empire. To succeed in this tour de force of replacing
one musical tradition with another, it was necessary for
the promoters of this new chant to invent a means to
write the music.
Certainly, Mediterranean antiquity had known systems of writing and of musical theory, of which vestiges
have come down to us.1 However, the Latin Church had
never made use of it for her chants. The testimony of
Saint Isidore of Seville, bishop, scholar, and musicologist of the sixth century, is conclusive:
“If the sounds are not retained in the memory of
man, they disappear, because one is not able to write
the manuscripts
Manuscript Paris B.N. lat. 12050 (Gradual of Corbie, end of 9th cent.)
the manuscripts
The development of a system of musical writing
adapted to the Frankish-Roman repertoire required
more than a century. It constitutes the first stage – the
principal one – of the birth of the musical notation that
we use today.
At the end of the eighth century, we see the appearance of the first manuscript collections of the chants of
the Mass. These books contain yet only the text of the
chants, with some being reduced to their incipits.3 The
musical notation is not yet invented: we remain in the
regime of the oral tradition for the music.4
The oldest manuscripts of this type have been published in a comparative format in Antiphonale missarum
sextuplex,5 a reference work for understanding the primitive tradition. We say today that a piece of chant is “authentic,” that it is part of the “old Gregorian foundation,” when its text appears in the best manuscripts of
the Sextuplex.
During the second half of the ninth century we encounter the first tentative musical writings: attempts of
the plume in the margins, neums curiously placed on
strophes of classic poetry or on the musical examples of
a theorist. We refer to these writings as “paleo-Frankish.”6
In the first years of the tenth century, the first extant
book of notated chant appears: the Cantatorium of
Saint-Gall. It includes only the soloist’s chants (chants
between readings). Its writing is perfect, as much in
the manuscripts
Gradual of Mont-Renaud (10th cent., French neums)
the manuscripts
the rhythmic precision as in the nobility of the calligraphy; it will not be equaled. It is a sophisticated memory aid for the rhythm and for the nuances of expression, but the melody continues to be a matter for the
oral tradition. This durability of the oral tradition is
fundamental if we want to understand the proper role
of this newborn notation. However precise this writing
appears to us – and it exceeds by far the modern notation for rhythm – it is not the foundation of the work.
The musical work has already preexisted for more than
a century, independently from any writing.7 The primitive notations are something like an attempt at a report, a tentative fixing of the vocal gestures on the
parchment. In no way are they the writing of a work
that would wait to be created8 in its execution, as has
been the case now for several centuries. The musician’s rapport with the musical writing was then fundamentally different from what it is today.
These first attempts were necessarily limited, first, by
the musical concepts of those who elaborated the system of writing, but also by the ear and the consciousness of the first notators, who were not all sensitive to
the same parameters. In its essence, music is not created to be written; it will always transcend even the
most perfect system of notation:
“Some fundamental elements of music cannot be
written, or, at least, if one can manage to transcribe
them more or less precisely, they can then only be reproduced by departing from the notation. The
process of the writing sterilized them.”
The proof of the limitations of this newborn musical
writing is that over the course of the tenth century
the manuscripts
Manuscript Rome, Angelica 123 (Italian Gradual, 11th cent.)
the manuscripts
other systems of notation, multiple and various, are
going to bloom. About 930, the Gradual of Laon provides the complete repertoire of chants for the Mass in
“Lorraine” notation (or Messine), which is representative of the eastern part of France. Brittany also possesses, from the tenth century, its own system of “Breton” notation.10 The regions between Normandy and
Lyons also develop their own neumatic writing, the
“French” notation, of which the oldest witness is the
manuscript of Mount-Renaud (second half of the
tenth century, cf. p. 116). Also, several documents of
the tenth century transmit to us a writing proper to the
southwest of France, one destined for a rich development: “Aquitainian” notation.
The tenth century is, then, the century of the birth of
musical notation, with its placing the Gregorian repertoire in written form. Each of these systems has its own
limitations, but they have all one in common: while
they all pay particular attention to notating rhythmic
information and agogic nuances, none of them indicates the distance of the intervals between tones. These
are notations in campo aperto (literally, “in an open
field”), or “in pure neums.” Several of these systems,
notably the notations of Loan, Brittany and Aquitaine,
already testify to a concern about indicating the relative height of notes;11 but it is to the eleventh century to
perfect diastematic and solfège systems of notation.
The ascribing of the invention of the musical staff to
the manuscripts
Manuscript Paris B.N. lat. 903 (Aquitianian Gradual, 11th cent.)
the manuscripts
Guido d’Arezzo is an historic simplification. This pedagogical genius did perfect the system of the staff, and
he presented it to Pope John XIX,12 who showed a great
deal of interest in it. His promoter (John XIX) thus established his place in posterity, but the staff itself had
appeared progressively. The medieval parchments
were ruled or lined: that is, some horizontal lines were
drawn in advance in order to facilitate the calligraphy.
In order to leave adequate space for the notator of the
music, the calligrapher of the text normally wrote on
every other line. The skipped line inevitably must have
served as a guide to keep the drawn neums in a straight,
horizontal direction. Manuscripts from all over Europe show us that this line was used as a spatial reference, and that the scribes began to write the higher
pitches higher on the parchment in relation to this line
and the lower pitches lower.13 A single line is sufficient,
as long as the writing is carefully done and the ambitus
of the melody is limited. When the range extends,
other lines of reference can be added. It is a fact that
with four lines, we can write comfortably the vast majority of the Gregorian repertoire, whose vocal ambitus
is not considerably wide.
The custos is a sign placed at the end of a line to signal the position (relative height) of the first note of the
next line. It appears during the second half of the
tenth century, in Aquitaine and to the south in Italy.
Next come keys, which associate theoretical scales to
the concrete system of lines, by fixing the respective
places of whole-steps and half-steps, depending on the
particular diatonic scale.14 At this stage of development
the manuscripts
Manuscript Benevento 34 (Beneventan Gradual, 11th-12th cent.)
the manuscripts
of the notation the influence of theorists seems decisive, if not dominating.
With the emphasis being placed henceforth on the
notation of melodic height, we note that the scribes become neglectful with regard to notating the rhythmic
nuances that were the total focus of the notation of the
previous century. The writing coats itself: thicker and
thicker squares in France and notation “in nails” in
Germany. As long as the oral tradition is passed on
(which is possible in places like monasteries, which
preserve it), the damage is not irreparable. However,
when the memory gives way, recourse to the book gives
only the melodies of pieces, deprived of the living and
life-giving sap of their rhythm. Then the decadence is
These two systems of writing that follow each other
chronologically (neumatic notation and notation on
lines) seem to link together in a logical way. In actuality, however, each is profoundly different from the
other in its essence.
The neum (pneuma) is like a symbol, the projection
onto the parchment of a vocal gesture.15 It aims to imitate, to draw the musical reality, and to put directly in
front of the eyes a sign that is accessible to the imagination:
“At the basis of the system is the intention to translate a melody by a gesture and to fix this gesture on the
parchment. In fact, the neum is a ‘transcribed ges16
Manuscript Worcester F.160 (English antiphonary, 13th cent.)
the manuscripts
The notation on lines, especially when keys have
been integrated into it, is of a theoretical order:
“It does not represent the music itself, but its theory... [Its] signs correspond to relationships between
order and measure, to mathematically conceived and
formulated relationships, instituted by the theory.”
Fundamentally, it is the rapport of the singer with
the music that is changed; and it is probably the most
significant turning point in the entire history of music
in the West.
We should not imagine that the application of these
two systems of notation was homogeneous and simultaneous throughout medieval Europe. Some Germanic
centers preserved the neumatic writing up until the
very end of the Middle Ages, while other regions appear to have adopted the staff quickly. At the two extremes, we have good reason to believe that the “old
Roman” repertoire was written directly on staffs, without the intermediary of neums in campo aperto,18 while
the Hispanic repertoire never saw the passage of the
neums to the staff.
To access today the authentic musical reality of the
Gregorian repertoire, therefore, requires that we place
the melodic version side-by-side with the the oldest
neumatic manuscripts (Saint-Gall, Laon, etc.). This is
the basis of a new science: Gregorian semiology.19 The
comparative study of the various manuscripts, while setting aside the limitations proper to each of them, per-
the manuscripts
mits the recovery of the rhythmic and expressive sense
of graphic neums. This is how we can reconnect, at
least to a certain extent, with the concrete actio canendi
that these graphics attempted to freeze on the parchment. Even so, there are – let us say it once again to
conclude – so many things that the writing cannot
transmit: the pronunciation (vocalization and articulation), the accentuation, micro-tones, the vocal technique of another age... without counting the ten centuries of civilization that separate us from the mind set
of the first notators.
1. Jacques CHAILLEY, La musique grecque antique, ch. VII, Les
Belles Lettres, Paris, 1979.
2. De musica, c. XV; P.L. 82, col. 163.
3. That is, the first words of the chant, used as a designation for
the entire piece
4. The designation of modes, however, appears in the ninth century, in the margins of the Graduale of Corbie (cf. p. 114) with regard to pieces that are sung with psalmody (Introit and Communion).
5. Antiphonale missarum sextuplex, published by D. René-Jean HESBERT, Vromant and Co, Brussels-Paris, 1935.
6. D. Jacques HOURLIER and Michel HUGLO, E.G. II (1957), p.
212-219. Kenneth LEVY, “On the origin of neums,” Early Music
History 7, Cambridge 1987, p. 59-90.
7. Kenneth Levy, in his article quoted in note 6, considers one
or two attempts at notation during the ninth century, perhaps
even by Charlemagne. This very appealing hypothesis has a great
deal of merit, but it demands deeper study and discussion.
the manuscripts
8. The word established by use should be given its full weight
here: before its creation the musical work does not have the least
substance, however written it may be.
9. Alain DANIÉLOU, Sémantique musicale (Hermann, Paris, 1967),
p. 27.
10. Sometimes called “Chartrian” because the principal manuscript that contains it was deposited at Chartres (P.M. t. XI). But
its origin is Brittany as is proved in E.G. I (1954), p. 173-178.
11. We refer to these as partially or relatively diastematic.
12. GERBERT, Scriptores, t. II, P. 43-44.
13. Cf. Marie-Elisabeth DUCHEZ, “La représentation spatio-verticale du caractère musical grave-aigu et l’élaboration de la notion
de hauteur de son dans la conscience musicale occidentale,” Acta
Musicologica LI, 1979, p. 54-73.
14. There were attempts other than the staff, notably the alphabetical notation (antiphonaire Saint-Bénigne de Dijon, called “de
Montpellier,” P.M. t. VII). This attempt spread to the Norman
monasteries, but didn’t acquire universal recognition.
15. The term “chironomic” notation has been used sometimes.
The term is not without ambiguity, but it has the value of being
16. D. Eugene CARDINE, op. cit. infra, p. 2.
17. Marie-Elisabeth DUCHEZ, “Des neumes à la portée”, Notations et Séquences, Honoré Champion, Paris, 1987, p. 58.
18. The date of the presentation of the method of writing of
Guido d’Arezzo to the Pope (John XIX, 1024-1033) is a little earlier than the copy of the “old Roman” Gradual of Saint-Cécile in
Trastévère. The paucity of rhythmic indications in the “old
Roman” manuscripts is, in this respect, quite indicative.
19. The foundations of this science were laid by Dom Mocquereau, and the scientific framework were established by Dom
Eugène CARDINE: Beginning Studies in Gregorian Chant, trans. and
ed. by William Tortolano (Chicago, 1975) and Gregorian Semiology,
trans. by William Fowles (Solesmes, 1982).]
the manuscripts
the history . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
the liturgy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
the chant of the psalms . . . . . . . .29
the office . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
the proper of the mass . . . . . . . .67
the other chants . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87
the manuscripts . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113